April 12, 2010 § Leave a comment
It felt like an ordinary day…
“Why, who might that be?”
With that sarcastic tone, he tempted me to ask the question again. But it was all a joke when Eric held out the familiar, thin, black box. I felt like a fool when my mouth was half open in mid-vocalization of that question he so wanted me to ask.
“She told me to give this back to you.”
He calmly slides his hand back into his pocket, smiled with satisfaction, and nodded to himself. The box that was passed on had returned to me like emails being bounced back. I could feel its content shift around in its padded hold and the jingle made me ask, “Where is she?”
“Kino, she disappeared. Went poof with a snap of my fingers,” he would snap his finger, and just like that, the anger took control of me. I pushed him against the dry wall, and grabbed the collar of his shirt.
“What did you do?”
“What have you become?” a pause, “I merely granted her a small wish. The poor girl thought she was a stain, and I used the strongest detergent to wipe her clean of you filthy hands.”
“What are you talking about? Rolland I demand for answers!”
As his name rolled out of my mouth, a fist collided with the side of my face, and left me on the ground. I would only look up at Eric who now looked down at me with a menacing look.
“To think, I let her go because I thought she would be happier with you,” he whispered through his clenched teeth, a demon smile stretched across his face, his eyes narrowing. I realized then that he was furious, beyond anger and rage. The shimmer that soften Eric’s piercing gaze caught my attention.
“She was much better off being toyed by me than she is now. I watched her like I was some sort of guardian. I watched her. And I can’t believe how conceited I was to believe that YOU of all people could make her smile!”
With that he walked off leaving me behind with an enigma.
I sat in the empty classroom past the time any normal student would be lurking around, staring at the content of the box, sighing. The collar I gave her dangled between my fingers as I let it loosely hang.
“Bring her back! You want her back too right? So bring her back! You’re the only one who can do it! Mopping around, saying that she doesn’t have the same feelings for you, assuming she’ll walk away when she stayed right next to you, like some kind of coward! She doesn’t deserve someone like that.”
Mayu’s angry tears were overlooked as she grabbed me by the collar and shook violently. I didn’t have the energy to fight back. I heard the familiar voice but it was all a murmur to me. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t bring the emotions to even talk back. Nothing was coming in or out. I was empty, hollow, dead.
“You selfish brat! Then you’re just the same as everyone else, toying with her! You push her away and then smile as if you didn’t do anything, just like everyone else. You let her fall. If you weren’t like everyone else, she would still be here. The Yuki I knew wouldn’t have been such a coward. It’s your fault!”
With just a flick, the light was gone, and I was left in the dark. It was incredibly lonely and cold. A new set of emotions. All my life, people would come and go. They had a role, they acted out their part, and I acknowledged it. With just a thought, the weight on my shoulders increased, and I was left with a burden. So this is how she must have felt. I never knew how heavy it was until it was thrown onto me and super glued so that it wouldn’t come off.
Some would say I was cocky, obviously oblivious when I thought I had her. What went wrong? Nobody knew. The strong Kino everyone knew, crumbled and disappeared, right between our—my fingers. Or was it me who slipped? I didn’t even try to catch her, did I?
As I stared at the chalkboard in front of me, there was a monster threatening to shred me to pieces inside out. For the subtle glance and presence of Kino’s very existence, disappeared in an instant. It has been a week, and nothing has changed except the hole in my heart. How was I supposed to know she meant this much to me? I couldn’t. Not until she was gone.
“Huh? Sorry. I’ll pick you up then.”
At first I thought I would play along with Lily’s game. Move on, a fresh new page. But no matter how hard I tried, Kino’s sad smile would pop into my mind. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t forget. Forget how her body moved, how her laughs would echo through the classroom, how her melodies would make me want to hold her so tightly that I’d probably break her. I didn’t even do anything, and I snapped her in half. Was I that inconsiderate to not notice how fragile she was in the first place?
Everyday kept getting bleaker, darker, lonelier. I can even feel it, a huge chunk of my heart just gone. I would see acquaintances walking by without noticing she was gone, and furious, I was. I wasn’t the only one, but that didn’t give me any comfort. For those people, the blame was all on me. Everything was my fault.
“You know Yuki, sometimes I wonder if you even understood anything. Do you even care anymore? You don’t even plan on looking for her are you?”
“Man, and I even played the bad guy for you.”
“Yuki, I can’t stress enough to you, go ask her yourself. I may be her best friend, and I may know a few things you don’t, but it wouldn’t mean a thing if I spoon fed it to you.”
I looked up at Nadako, who ate her lunch casually, as if she didn’t want to have anything to do with me anymore. She was right…but every time I think about going to find her, I see that same frustrated look she gave me when she told me to leave her alone. If she ran away from me because she disliked me, then I’ll move on. If…
Time was blurring, as I suddenly found myself doing just what Kino told me. Giving up. I was a defeated man, and it just felt logical not to go the extra mile. I took Kino’s words straight like a shot of vodka, and prayed I might lose a few important details or two. I thought, time would heal everything, but how could something so unstable cure whatever was aching?
“Yuki~, how do I look?” and out came Lily. My eyes could only imagine Kino in that dress. I looked down trying to think of something to say, “ok.”
How she was satisfied with that, I don’t know, but she smiled. It’s as if she was just happy that I was there with her. Like I was with Kino, did she feel the same way?
I felt a weight on my arm, and my name being called once again.
“Yuki, I love you. You know that right?”
The words floated by, as they meant nothing to me. I didn’t respond.
I quickly turned around and noticed Lily standing there on the sidewalk with a serious look, tears just breaking through.
“I will not stand for you ignoring me all evening! It’s because I’m not Kino right? Just because I’m not Kino means you can use me like some easy woman! I didn’t fall in love with a coward! I fell in love with Yuki Pelletier, the kind and charming prince who was always looking at…Kino. Is this how you treated Kino, because I can see why she gave up on you then!”
Tears trickled down the corner of her eyes. Standing tall, she continued to look back at Yuki with poise and pride.
A coward she says, that indeed I was. I was scared of seeing Kino cry, I was scared of hurting her, I was scared of something even as trivial as being rejected. Me, the heir of the Pelletier’s scared of finally not getting what I wanted? I don’t think so.
I felt my heart cave in as the walls finally gave way to the emptiness that was really inside. I felt horrible. I guess this is what she meant by avoiding her.
“If you knew, then why did agree to become my girlfriend when she left?”
“I thought it didn’t matter if you didn’t like me, as long as I was with you. But I was wrong. They say that you’re the happiest when the person you love is happy. But look at us…We’re just selfish creatures,” she wiped the tears of her cheek and tried to laugh. Those words, it finally clicked.
That idiot! I thought. She selflessly disappeared from my life thinking I would be happy she was gone. But then why did she look like the sky was falling…unless she was saying those things knowing it was painful. Of course she would!
“I said some terrible things to Kino, and to think, that she understood what I wanted to say even more than I did,” Lily sighed and shook her head, “It seems you know what to do now.”
“Will you be able to get home by yourself?”
“I’ve prepared a ride.”
“I apologize then.”
Were my final words to her as I dashed into the night, running like I’ve never ran before.
Kino didn’t give up because she was injured. She would have kept going no matter the pain. She did keep going, trying to stand on her own two feet, tired of waiting. That’s so like her, to burden the pain rather than selfishly get what she wants. I was so naive trying to forget that I harmed her, how much pain I dished out to her, that I didn’t realize how she must have felt. I would get the shivers just thinking about seeing her cry herself to sleep. Too bad I wasn’t so selfless or strong like her, because I couldn’t stand another second sitting still thinking.
“Yuki, I don’t know what you’re doing but this has to stop! You haven’t been to school these last three days, and I know you’re not sick,” Mayu lectured, cornering me in the locker room after weeks of silence from her. Keith gave a simple glance, our eyes met and he chuckled.
“What’s so funny?!” Mayu turned on her heels and stood up on her tippy toes to try and look at Keith at eye level, but failed.
“It sounds like you know what you’re doing,” Keith commented casually, “Hey, don’t worry about it so much. I mean, it worked for me right?”
His eyes softened as he looked down at Mayu and gave her a small peck on the cheek.
“Wah…Keith!” Mayu blushed furiously before turning to look away from the two of them. “Yuki—“
“Sorry I can’t stay very long, the piano festival starts today and I can’t miss a single class!”
I would search every day, skipping school if I had to. Searching for her, for the smile that makes me want to hold her tight, the air around her that made me want to steal her breath away, her petite frame that made me want to call her name and sweep her off her feet. It was almost like a game of chase, and I was it the entire time. If only she would have told me. What she expected me to figure it out or something?
I didn’t care about who was in my way, what was in my way, or how to get it out of my way, even if it’s Kino herself. I was going to make things right, and reclaim what was mine. I wasn’t going to give up that easily with harsh words and a few tears. The answer was really beneath my nose.
If there was anything Kino could not run away from, it was the piano for it was the one thing that would make her smile. With that clue, I would scout her at all these piano festivals. Sometimes they happened during the day when school took place, and sometimes they took place at night. But I knew I hit the jackpot when I flipped through the programme and saw her name in the Chopin category. I would finally take my seat in the small auditorium hall fully disguised as a student from another school, wearing their uniform, glasses, and a hat to cover my hair. I didn’t want to surprise her yet. But I did want to see her face just once, as if confirming she really did exist, that we weren’t all just dreaming. There in the center of the stage was a roughed up old Petrof piano. The first few performers proved it was properly tuned, despite its condition. Seeing her once again, was I ready for this? Too late to back up now.
As she stepped out from the side door, my heart stopped. Was that really her? It had to be. Nobody could make such a bland uniform look so cute. Yet at the same time I caught glimpsed of the exhaustion in her eyes, and the thinning of her already slim face. Her hair was much longer, covering an entire side of her face. But when her fingers touched the keys, it felt like nothing changed. The small smile on her face crept up as she closed her eyes to play a scale passage, and the way she would pout because just because it was in a minor key. I felt almost as if she was telling us a story, our story. The surging feelings coming out of each line cried to me, calling to me. Kino never could express how she truly felt in words. It was metaphysical and telepathy with her. As if she wants to share her secret but couldn’t, thus leaving it in code. She was reaching out for something, someone. Then I noticed it, the way she held her arm, it was exactly the same back then. I felt myself starting to sink knowing that my worst fears may have become reality…
After attending a few more festivals, listening to Beethoven, Bach, Grieg, Kabalesky, I noticed a girl with the same uniform. This was my clue.
“Excuse me, what school do you go too?”
“Uh, East Side Klinton Public School?”
“The girl who played earlier today is from your school right?”
“Kino? Yes. Do you know her?”
“I guess you could say,” I paused for a moment. What was the right word to use? “I’m her number one fan.”
“Really?! I didn’t know there were fans in Klinton other than me!”
“Hmm, well you’re not the only one.”
She breathed a sigh of relief and laughed cheerfully, “Well that’s good to hear. When she first transferred into her school I thought there was no way she would come to a small school like ours, especially when Grandia has everything. As a fellow musician, I would have never wanted to pass up the opportunity of going there. Oh by the way, which performance have you seen?!”
That was an interesting question. When was the last time I saw her play? It really has been ages since I actually sat down and listened to her play.
“I first heard her when she was at the live audition.”
“Did you apply to Grandia too?”
“I did, but when I heard her play in the live audition, I knew there was no way I could have gotten in.”
“So you gave up.”
“Ha, never! I still got the nerve to go up on the same stage as her and perform, and give my two cents. But I knew that even if the door was closed, it doesn’t hurt to knock. That’s why when she said she was giving up music, I gave her a good smack and set her right! I think the reason why she wanted to give up because she felt nobody wanted to listen to her. Or at least that’s what I think she meant when she said ‘they won’t understand even if I screamed.’ So, we fans gotta do our job to support her!”
“Say, I’m Mimi, Mimi Armstrong,” she held her hand out to me and I peered into her vivid blue eyes that was exuding enthusiasm that could not be ignored. I sighed and laughed at myself. Even a stranger is doing a better job than me.
I took her hand and shook it firmly, as I rolled out the first alias I could think of, “Rolland. I better get going.”
“You don’t want to meet her?”
“Uh, actually I…I don’t think it be a good thing if she saw me,” I said hesitantly as I shifted my gaze towards the exit. The girl was sharp though, catching onto my uneasiness quickly.
“Oh I see~ you have a crush on her!”
“Please don’t tell her you saw me here because tomorrow…I was…”
“No worries! But I’m warning you, she’s notorious for turning guys down. Almost every guy in our school already tried to ask her out. It was quite interesting because the first couple of guys she would agree to go on one date with them, but then reject them at the end of the day. Saying something like ‘You’re not interesting,’ or ‘you’re an eyesore.’ Actually, a lot of girls are kind of jealous of her. It’s kind of scary. One morning we went to class together, and I didn’t notice, but she pulled me out of the way before someone poured a bucket of water right in front of us. Can you believe it?”
“Wait, what else happened? Did she get hurt?”
“Well I do say she gets roughed up a bit from time to time, but she always seemed to be able to manage. I feel like sometimes she’s protecting me too, by trying not to get close to me. But I feel so sad for her then.” She laughed trying to ease the tension before continuing, “You seem like a nice guy Rolland, so I’ll help ya’ out. Tomorrow our first lunch break ends at 12:30.”
I couldn’t sleep that night as thoughts raced through my head. While slowly drifting off, I kept hearing someone call my name, but I would wake up before I could turn around to see who it was. I already knew who it was and that was the most frustrating part. I sat in my room, in an arm chair set next to a wooden coffee table and I would casually look to the side to catch a glimpse of the necklace, its crystals twinkling in the dim light. I breathed out closing my eyes, imagining us dancing again, imagining the sound she played, imaging the self destruction she might have inflicted upon herself. But there was nothing to worry about. I was her prince, she was my princess. No matter how many times trouble calls, I’ll save her without question and without doubt. That makes me sound kind of cliché doesn’t it?
The car barely stopping, I threw the door open and stumbled out of it and into the small school yard.
“Excuse me, you aren’t from this school are you?”
“No I’m not.”
“I’m afraid I can’t let you in.”
“Oh no I’m just picking someone up.”
“You! Rolland! Thank goodness you’re here!”
“Huh? Wait what happened?”
“Kino, she needs your help!”
The girl, Mimi, quickly grabbed my hand and dragged me away from the office. As I climbed the stairs I heard the cheers of the students who were on lunch break. But for some reason these cheers were chilling. As I took a short trip to the past, remembering the first time we met.
“Take it back! Yuki isn’t like that!” It was when I heard that loud demanding voice rang in my ears did I stop to listen. I heard a crash and the sound of impact, as if a fight broke out. My heart squeeze, as I rushed into the circle, stopping whatever would harm something so precious and dear to me.
“X marks the spot, time to dig out my buried treasure,” and I swooped down to her and brushed away the hair in her face.
“What are you? Some kind of pirate?”
“The King did a great job hiding the diamonds. But it was nothing.”
And just like that, we spoke to each other as if time slowly began moving again.
As I carried her in my arms, suddenly a huge weight was placed upon my chest as this familiar heart racing, and butterfly stomach sensation wafted over me.
When we were finally released from the car, the blasted girl started running away from me. After all the trouble I went through….
I grabbed onto her arm tightly, trying to pull her back. When the cries and shrieks of pain reached my ears, I rolled up the sleeves.
My whole body sank. I almost gagged. Huge patches of peeled away till it was raw, deep nail markings left along the sides, the smell rustic smell of blood, and smoky smell of charred meat reached my nose. What was scary was there were no scars or scabs. That she felt the need to hurt herself so frequently that she didn’t even let them heal. Just when I thought things were going to be ok, my worst fears came true. To think she would cause this much suffering to herself…tears started coming out, as if I was crying in her stead. The feelings I wouldn’t dare speak back then were being conveyed.
“You think you can just smile the pain off, no big deal. You think you can just disappear into thin air without saying good bye, no big deal. You think it’s ok if other’s hurt you or if you hurt yourself, no big deal?”
Angry at myself for letting her suffer so much. I felt terrible, that tears started running down my cheek. I knew she was scared now, trapped in fear. She wouldn’t even look at me. Would it comfort her if I told her I was scared too? I quickly looked up at her, but she closed her eyes, she didn’t like what I had to say, but this is how I feel!
Love conquers all right?
“I love you!”