I looked to Gek with questioning eyes. They followed him as he stood up and dusted himself off.
"Pity, pity that you don't know. It must be hard to not remember anything."
"What? How." I blinked, "How did you know?"
"Most people know their ages." He gave me an annoyed look, "So, you coming?"
"I suppose." I rose, also dusting myself off, "Er, where ARE we going?"
"Dunno. We'll figure that out when we get there. I 'spose we could go look for lunch."
"But it's only six in the morning!" My watch said so. "Lunch, to me, at least, is at noon."
"It'll take us that long to get there." Again he gave me an annoyed look.
"Oh. I see."
We headed for the boarded entrance, wrapped in an uneasy silence. After we slid out under the boards, we began walking. I followed Gek, in almost a blind fashion, having no idea as to where he was leading me. Once or twice, I wanted to ask about it, but the silence was much louder than my voice would ever be.
I found that we were on the very fringe of town, the countryside almost. There was a slight, warm breeze, and the sun peeked from behind thin clouds. The sky was a deep blue in places where no clouds were present. It was very pleasant, perfect for a walk. However, the silence was a bit overpowering, to the point that my ears were ringing. Through discipline, I kept myself silent while following.
We were soon walking on white sidewalks, passing by family-sized houses. Occasionally, kids would stop and watch us pass by, along with various dogs and cats, The small neighborhoods gave off a safe, caring feeling- everyone we passed by smiled and nodded. I began to wish somebody would stop us and say, "You look like you two could use some food, why don't you come in for tea?" just so I could see what the inside of these homes looked like. This, I thought, after I regained myself, this would be where I'd live. Among the happiness was Gek, staring straight ahead, facing the sun. He never once returned a greeting as we passed people- and never even glanced at the kids or animals that watched us. He looked, to me, like a big streak of the night facing the sun. He refused to let any of the light pass through him, only around him.
I'll admit this observation fascinated me.
Besides the occasional 'hello' that terrible silence continued to hang around my shoulders. It was only stopped when I had noticed somebody joined our little parade. Looking down, to my side, a small girl was walking right along with me as if she had been there from the beginning.
"Hello. What's your name?" I smiled, looking down at her.
"Me? I'm." she gained an expression of deep thought, "Hold on. I'ma not 'spost tell my name to strangers."
"Oh. That's very smart of you." I nodded, "My name's Anise."
"An-ease, huh? That 'ta very strange name."
"Anise." I laughed, correcting her, "But you're right, I think it's uncommon."
"Not as pretty as Keiko, that'ta my name."
"Keiko, that's pretty! Are you suppose to be following us, Keiko?"
I noticed Gek glanced at us for a moment, then continued to stare ahead.
"Dunno. Where 'ta Gecko goes 'ta Keiko goes."
"Are you related?"
They both said, instantly, "No." Of course, I had my doubts.
"Will your parents be upset if you come with us?"
"'Rents? They don' care, Mam's busy with ever'buddy else. She prob'bly doesn't know I'ma gone."
"Oh." I felt slightly sad at that news. "I think it's alright with Gek, he doesn't seem to mind, so I suppose it's okay if you follow us."
We walked in silence for some time, as I noticed Keiko was completely barefoot. Plus her clothes didn't seem to be in the best shape of their lives, either- it was a worn-out hand-me-down checkered dress sporting various stains. Her blond hair was up in pony tails on either side of her head- they bounced as she walked. Tucked under her arm was a teddy bear, who was missing his left eye.
"What's your bear's name?" I pointed at it.
"William. He's a very good bear. He goes ever'where with me. But he's missin' a eye, do you see? So I pe'tend that he poke-ed it out."
"That's no good, say, if we find a button somewhere, I'll sew it on for you. What do you say?"
"It wouldn' hurt William, would it?"
"No, of course not." I tried to think like a five-year-old, "It'll be like at the doctors, first he will go to sleep and then when he wakes up, he'll be all better."
"We had 'ta put kitty 'ta sleep. She never came back." Keiko shrugged.
"I'm sorry. But you'll get him back, you can even sit next to me while I fix him."
"Okay. You'ra nice stranger."
I merely smiled, unsure as to how to respond. She KNEW my name, was I still a stranger? And we had been holding a conversation- wouldn't that qualify me as at least an acquaintance? I don't know why it bothered me so much- it just did. We continued, all three of us, in absolute silence. Soon, the sun was high in the sky, and the air had begun to warm up. Keiko began slowing down, falling behind a few steps before rushing to catch up with me. She was holding her bear with both arms, trying her hardest to stay next to me. I watched her catch up, then asked, "Do you need help?"
"I'ma big girl, can do it myself."
"It's okay to ask for help, even if you are a big girl."
"But I don't need help."
Thinking, I then asked: "Would you like a ride?"
"Yes'am, that'd be great!"
"Okay. Run ahead a few steps."
Keiko picked up her speed, walking at least five paces in front of me. I increased my own pace slightly, then scooped her up just before I was right beside her. She laughed as I did so, then as I held her, she wrapped one arm behind my neck, tucking her bear under the other. Plus, she moved her free hand's thumb to her mouth. I had to admit she was very adorable! I figured we now looked like some sort of mismatched family- that is, if Gek looked like he fit into the picture in the first place. And to add to that picture, a few minutes later Keiko was resting her head against my shoulder, blinking sleepily as we turned, walking through more neighborhoods.
We finally arrived at our- or, rather, Gek's destination around noon. At this time, Keiko was completely asleep, thumb still hanging in her mouth and William tucked loosely under her arm. She had dropped him a few times, but of course, being me, I went back and picked it up. Slowly I followed Gek up to a house, as he rung the doorbell.
Less than a minute later, a woman opened up the door. "Hello Gek!"
"Yo. Can I bring a friend in?" He waved a hand at me.
"Oh." The woman wiped her hands off on her apron, as she passed by Gek and stopped in front of me. For a minute, it felt as if she was scanning me from head to toe. She spoke in a whisper: "Hello, I'm Sarah- Keiko seems to like you."
I gave a nod. "Hi, Sarah, I'm Anise."
Sarah nodded then moved back to the door as the rest of us stood outside the door. Halfway through the door, she stopped and turned around. "Well? Aren't you coming in?"
Gek walked in quickly, and I followed behind with the still-asleep Keiko. Sarah led us (well, me, really, Gek seemed to know where to go) to the living room.
"My home is your home, please, relax. I've got lunch cooking, I'm sure there's enough for all of you. Can I get you anything beforehand?"
"Nah." Gek sunk back into the recliner he occupied.
"A glass of water, please." I sat on the couch, still holding Keiko slightly afraid that I might wake her if I set her down.
"All right. I'll be back, don't go anywhere." Sarah sashayed her way out of the room, seemingly heading for the kitchen.
"Gek, how do you know Sarah?"
"Just found her one day. I was sitting near the road for a few hours, until she came and asked me if I was okay."
"How nice of her!"
"Yeah. She invited me for dinner after I explained how my life 'works'. I come here a lot, she's always willing to share her kitchen."
"That's VERY nice, do you tell her how much you appreciate it?"
"You sound like a teacher or some parent." He gave me a faint glare, "I say 'Thanks' before I leave."
I nodded, shifting Keiko slightly in my arms.
"You should just lie her on the couch- if she wakes up." he shrugged.
I looked down at that sleepy face, eyes closed, in silence. After a minute, I spoke. "No, she's quite fine the way she is."
"You look like some greeting card, you two, or a poster on 'adoptions make everyone happy'."
"You know." I gave him a look, "That is kind of rude."
"I don't care. Might as well adopt her, Mom and Dad barely notice she's there."
"Well, how many kids ARE there?"
"Andrew. Mercia. Me. Emrill. Keiko. Saffe. Then there's another one, I don't remember. Haven't seen the guy for years, so."
Strangely, I then thought I SHOULD adopt those two. What a handful, to have so many siblings and little-to-no care from the parents. It actually made me angry, as I frowned.

"You're turning into a mother, Raine, you look just like one that's about to slap someone for upsetting the 'baby'."