Chapter 7

I open my eyes and I can feel a pang of hurt in my face. I lift my head up and rub my cheek; I had fallen asleep at my laptop the previous night. I glance at the snow white Word Perfect screen. There are only lines of meaningless letters, one run-on sentence that is definitely not the start of my novel. The various letters almost look like sprinkles with the screen being it's vanilla ice-cream. I sigh as I hold the backspace button and wipe it all away.

I support my head up with my hands as I give my laptop screen a good stare. C'mon words.....appear.........thinkthinkthinkthinkthink. Nothing. I throw my head back. This is useless; My previous novels were great hits and this one is highly anticipated. The public doesn't need to know what it is about: Girls hear my name and either faint or go on rants on how much they adore me. It's sickening; The line between fan and stalker is too thin Now I find myself a little depressed, so writer's block decides to hit me like the Black Death on Europe. Lovely, just lovely.

I decide to call Misaki and ask if I should be meeting her in the near future but she beats me too it; My phone vibrates and sings a little Asian tune. I flip it open and Misaki's name appears.

"Hello Misaki"

"Good day Eiri. How's everything?" Misaki asks in her usually cheerful mood.

I know when she says 'How's everything?' it's editor-code for 'I can give two shits for how you really are; How's the novel?'

"Oh, alright." I lie through my teeth as I stare up my ceiling. "I know you're calling for a reason so just spill it" I say, truthfully, not with any intention of being rude; it just comes out curt.

"Well, since you demand it, I'd like to meet with you today. How's lunch sound?"

"Great; It feels like I haven't eaten in days."

"Alright; Meet me at Daikio in a half an hour......" As she's speaking I realize it's already 11:30 AM. I actually got the recommended number of hours' sleep. She continues "Bring everything that you've done so far; I'd like to see what we have and from there we can form a title and expand on your schedule."

I don't have the heart to tell Misaki I have nothing what so ever; Instead I simply agree and tell her I'll bring my laptop. We hang up and I vacate my seat to get ready.

As I did the other day to my encounter with Shigeo and Akiko, I decide to walk to where I'm meeting Misaki. The cold air feels nice as it travels through my body. Every breathe I take relaxes me somehow; my body numbs for a moment and it feels as if I don't have a care in the word. Empty, that's what I feel. I suppose I had feelings when Yukiko was around; I'd shiver if a wind blew, I'd hold back tears if I was sad, I felt her small body whenever I picked her up, I heard her heartbeat, my heart was warmed whenever she smiled...........

Is there even a ground underneath my feet? If there is I can't feel it; Have I become that distraught, that affected by Yukiko's death so that I can't even feel myself anymore? Has my body been drained of all I cared about so that I've lost all tactile sensation? It seems that way.. This ball of emptiness in the pit of my stomach makes me uneasy.

I round the corner and Misaki is already sitting at a table outside Daikio. Her chocolate-brown hair is worn down, straight to her shoulders, and she's wearing a blue skirt-suit with a matching jacket. Very Misaki-like. I haven't seen her in a while but she hasn't changed a bit.

I have to admit, without Misaki I wouldn't be where I am today. I get my books published without a problem, but Misaki is the one who always jumps down my throat and gets on my case about my deadlines. I'm constantly calling her a worry-wart and an old lady, even though she's 2 years younger than me: I know it's for my best but I have to admit that she does tend to get necrotic and overreact sometimes........

"Oh hi Eiri!" Misaki finally turns and sees me. She gets up and gives me a little hug. "How have you been? Long time no see!"

"I know. How have you been Misaki?" I ask her as we head for the table and sit down.

"Fine, thank you. Oh, I've seen you brought your laptop. Great! Oh by the way I ordered you coffee." She adds as a waitress places two coffee cups on our table. Misaki always has 20 things on her mind; she can be talking to me about something, sandwich in another topic somewhere in between her sentences, and then go back to what she was originally saying. I take a long sip of coffee as she continues on."So what was I saying? Oh yeah....." She pulls out some papers from a briefcase. I continue drinking; This coffee is a part-time healer. "This is excellent Eiri. Perfect. Now I can see what you have and we'll work form there. You have at least the first 5 chapters done right?"

First 5 chapters? Misaki, I don't even have the first 5 sentences!, I tell myself. "Um...Misaki..."

"Oh, of course you do! I mean you probably have half of the novel done by now..."

"Misaki...." I repeat a little louder.

"Have you decided on a title yet? Well, we can always deal with that later; that's not important for now. So, what's it about?"

"Well, Misaki...."

"Oh, I don't care what it's about! As long as it comes from the brilliant mind of Eiri Uesugi, it'll be perfect!; But let me see it anyway; I'm dying of anticipation-"

"Misaki!!" I practically need to scream to stop her from ranting in her 'Eiri is the best novelist in the world, we're going to take over the book business' la-la land.

She gives me a skeptical look. "What?"

"Uh...well........" I need to stop bidding time. She's going to kill me, but I ave to tell her."I don't exactly have any of it....."

"What do you mean?" She interrupts me. "It got deleted?"

"No. No, it didn't get deleted......I just....." I swallow hard. "Didn't really write anything." I look at her. She still has a puzzled look on. I have no expectation of what she's going to say; but the greatest thing she does to surprise me is laugh.

"Oh, that's good Eiri. Very funny!" Misaki chokes out. "But seriously, show me what you got."

"I am being serious: Misaki, I have nothing." Just to convince her I pull out my laptop from it's case, open it and pull up the bank document where my novel is supposed to be. I turn the screen to her. "See? Nothing."

It's not until I show her screen that she realizes I'm not kidding. She stares at the blinding whiteness for a few seconds; then looks at me.

"WHAT?!" She exclaims so loud it feels my ears are going to explode. Kaboom. She goes on a full-fledged rant about how I knew how important this was, blah, blah, blah, why didn't I do something about writer's block, blah, blah, blah, how the editor-in-chief is going to kill her, blah, blah, blah........

I zone out. I can't help it. It's like listening to my mother. I crawl and hide inside my thoughts:

I miss last year. I had no trouble writing; It was actually a lot easier to write my novels and overcome the writer's block speed bumps in my head with Yukiko around. There was something about the way she was always so carefree and happy; It made me feel at ease and for a while I didn't take writing as an actual form of work but of self reflection: I put some of my feelings for Yukiko into what I wrote, and that's when I wrote my best. Ever since then I've always felt I needed someone to protect, to be a father-figure towards. Maybe's that why now my creativity's drier than a desert.

"Eiri, are you even listening to me?!" Misaki scolds. I snap back to reality.

"Sorry Misaki." I sigh. "I suppose I've been depressed lately."

"Oh God, Eiri I'm sorry." She says after a second or two of thought and apologies, covering her mouth."I completely forgot."

I shake my head. "It's alright. You only knew Yukiko from what I told you about her. I wasn't counting on you to remember....."

"No, that's no excuse. I'm sorry all the same." She says again. "That's probably why you're in a writing slump right?"

"It's not just that..." I look at my reflection in my half empty cup of coffee. Is that really me? The 23 year old that reflects back seems in pain. His heart is broken. He'll never be complete. Who is he? Another sigh comes from me."it's everything. It seems like I can never do anything anymore. " I snap my eyes closed and cover my face with my hand. "What's wrong with me?!Why couldn't I save her?!"

"Eiri, there was nothing you could've done....."

"You don't understand!" I look Misaki in the eyes. "I was a father to her and she was my daughter. I was right there for God sakes!. I was supposed to save her!" I can't take this anymore; I can feel my body shaking against the table. I push back hair that falls in front of my face."Christ, I'm sorry you have to se me like this Misaki." I take a deep breathe: In and out. In and out.I feel it go through me; It's cold just like before. "Damn, why am I so screwed up? I mean look at me: I'll throwing away my whole career over a child!"

"Eiri, I think that's where you're wrong." Misaki tells me, leaning over in her seat."It's like you said, you were a father to her, and she was a daughter to you. It doesn't matter if you were biologically related or not; Over the course of a year you two formed a bond stronger than any force in this world. It's only natural for you to real this way, so don't be so hard on yourself. Anyone who suffers from the loss of a loved one would react in the same way."

This is another one of those moments where Misaki acts wiser beyond her years. I'm in awe.

"But still....." I start up again. "It's been a year; Don't you think I should've gotten over it by now?"

"Well, you never can get over it; You just need to accept the fact that the person has died." A silent pause. She breathes in "The question is, have you gotten over her?"

I put this to heart. I think about then let out a breathe of cold air. "I'm not sure. Half of me has accepted it and the other half would do anything to see her again."

She smiles. "Don't worry Eiri. Just relax. You're a strong man; you'll get through this."

"I hope so."

She snaps my laptop closed and slides it back to me."Until then you can forget about the novel. Just take a day or two to clear your mind. Me getting on your case isn't going to help you either, so just forget about deadlines for now."

"Are you sure?"

"Positive. I'd rather you get all this sorted out and write something that's your best instead of some crap that you make up at 2 in the morning just to please me."

I utter a chuckle. It's brief, but still a chuckle. "Alright."

"Well, I think that's all we should cover for now." Misaki concluded as she pulls her bag over her shoulder. "I'll leave you alone for the time being. Call me if you need anything, or if you come up with an idea."

"I will. Thanks Misaki."

"Anytime Eiri. Sayonara."

"Sayonara."All of a sudden I feel really tired. I put my laptop away and decide to go back home.

I turn the key, activating the tumblers, and in 1 2 3 I'm inside my apartment. The emptiness drives me insane. It's too quiet. I see a dark, lonesome hallway that is only comforted by the curious sunlight. I hear a little girl giggle. I must be stressed. Suddenly a tiny figure stand in front of me: Long blonde hair, big child-like eyes, and a smile that would melt the hearts of terrorists.

"Yukiko?"

I rub my eyes then open them again. She's gone; Correction: She was never really there. I'm thinking about her too much. No matter what I do I just end up tired.

I need a nap. A coma would be nice.

Chobi: Sorry that took forever! I'll update asap. Special thanks to kekemapa and Miss Nina for the ten billionth time.Happy reading!!!