The first night he heard it, it was raining. The first time he saw it, it seemed to move. And the first time he saw him, he ran...
Monday was not a good day for Ikou Shin. Not at all. His parents had announced the previous week that they were pregnant. He put on a smile for them and told them he was happy. The truth was, he was not happy at all. And now today, on Monday no less, his girlfriend said, "Let's break up."
Ever since the announcement about the baby, he found he couldn't concentrate in school. It was also his fourth year of high school and he would be graduating. His 'parents' were trying to push him into doing well; get into a good college. Maybe he didn't want to go to college. They never thought to ask him. Maybe that's why he never felt that close to them. Now, all-of-a-sudden, they were pushing him to go to cram school and join study groups. But truthfully, though in his mind he complained, he had nothing to complain about. He didn't know what he wanted to do with his life; had never thought about it before.
He had always assumed that he would go to school, get some sort of job and that was it―no thought. But here his parents were telling him that that was not the way the world worked. He had to get good grades so that he could get into a fine university and come into a profession that would make him lots of money to live a comfortable lifestyle. He had never wanted to work that hard. He never said he wanted to live a life of riches, how ever marginal they might be. He just wanted a small apartment somewhere close to work.
And family? He had never considered taking a wife and having children. He just didn't want to live with parents. Come what may, prehaps, but never planned.
And that was why Yuriko wanted to break up.
"You're not thinking about our furture!" she had said, "We've been dating for four years and you don't know if you want me to live with you! I gave you all my attention and you still get it! You're stupid, Shin. I'm totally breaking up with you."
And Shin just stood watching as she walked away. Had it really been four years? He didn't think so. It felt like a much smaller time span. But that was fine: he hadn't been attached anyway. And then he was called down to his guidance counsoler.
"Ikou-kun, you're grades are slipping. Is something wrong? Did something happen in your life? You can tell me and we'll work something out?"
Shin shook his head. He was a little upset at his parents but he didn't matter to them anyways and he'd always known that. Yuriko didn't really upset him so that wasn't it.
Shin looked back up at the guidance counsoler.
"Did something happen?"
Shin shook his head in a definite 'no'.
He didn't know why people needed such definate answers to the future and it upset him that he was consistantly being reminded that the world didn't want to stop for him. And the rest of the week was just like that. Tuesday he forgot his keys and had to wait outside until his 'dad' came home to let him in. Wednesday he forgot his lunch and had to go hungry because he had no money and his friends had no extra. Thursday his bike ran over something insignificant that ended up throwing him off the bike and on to the asphalt, causing him to walk into school with cuts and bruises. And Friday was the worse day of all.
The forecaster said it was going to be another bright and sunny day. What a load of crap that turned out to be. He made his way to school on foot, since the previous day's accident had caused his bike to be decommisioned for awhile. When he got there, he was late by one minute. He went to his shoe-locker to change into his indoor shoes when he found them missing. Sighing, he went to the office to get a new pair, taking twenty minutes just to do that. When he made his way up the stairs to his homeroom/first period, he tripped, skinning his chin, hands and knees. Making his way into the classroom, the teacher made him stand out side for being tardy. He wasn't allowed to explain why. When lunch came around, he could barely eat because his right hand had taken the brunt of his fall.
When school let out, he made his way down to his shoe-locker and changed into his regular shoes. That's when it poured. It just came down in sheets of water. Most everyone had cell phones and started dialing home. Once it had been going for an hour, he just didn't care. It was Friday, he could get his bag tomorrow. He stuffed it into his shoe-locker and walked out into the rain. He was immediately soaked to the bone.
Thinking back on all the the things that happened to him throughout the week, Shin couldn't help but think that, somehow, this was personal. On his way home, he passed a forest. He had always passed this forest. But today he thought, "I wish I could just live in that forest with no 'future' this and 'future' that."
"What happened this time?" his 'mother' exclaimed.
"That's not an answer, Shin."
Shin sighed and told her everything that had happened.
She shook her head. "Fine, stay there―in the entranceway. I'll bring you some towels."
She put the towels on the floor so that he could make his way to the downstairs bathroom without getting water on 'her' wooden floor. Once there, he stripped down, wrapped a towel around his waist and hung the wet things to dry. He gathered up the towels on his way out and put them in the laundry. Then, he went up to his room.
There, he changed into some warm clothes and collasped on his bed.
Why? Why did so many things have to happen to him? What was the world's problem with him? What did he ever do? Nothing. Nothing at all. Maybe that's what it was. He was too quiet, too timid, too average. He was generally smart, kind, and polite. He had dark brown hair and brown eyes. His hair was cut to lengths―the first being to his ears, the second to the nape of his neck. People expected such grand things from him.
But he didn't want to be great. He rarely spoke a full string of words. He almost never approached someone. And unless he tried, he was an average student. He had a normal build―no muscle but not ghostly skinny. And compared to the other guys at school, he was short (about 5'6). He had no interests. Art, music, drama, singing, sports: none of it intrested him.
Althought he did like food. He had a certain weak spot for food. He didn't know why exactly, but he loved his mother's home cooked bentou and dinners. When Yuriko had asked him out, she had used a bentou to do it, and that was why he had said yes. All-in-all, food was what he had an interest in. No one knew this though. His mother didn't see it. Yuriko was unaware of it. Even Shin himself was almost clueless to its draw.
It thundered outside and for a moment Shin thought the power would go out. That was fine with him. He liked small, dark spaces. He curled up on his bed, drawing his knees to his chest carefully so as not to hurt himself further. The rain was surprisingly calming.
The next day, it rained. It seemed it hadn't stopped raining and Shin was a little disappointed. He put on his washed and dried uniform and grabbed his umbrella. He wore sneakers he didn't really care about, in case they got wet and treked off to school. When he got there, he put his umbrella in his locker and changed his shoes. They were a little wet. He grabbed his bag and made his way to the classroom.
Today was a half day; cleaning day. He hooked his bag to his desk and waited in silence. When the teacher came in, everyone got to their seats to bow and began class. They cleared the floor and began to sweep.
At the end of the day, Shin made his way to the entrance only, to his horror, to discover his umbrella missing. He couldn't believe it. He didn't think anyone would be that cruel. Why would anyone want to steal his umbrella? Okay, stupid question considering it was still raining.
Leaving his bag again, he left.
He was crying. He hated crying. It made his head hurt and his nose run. He couldn't take it. He was only one human. Everything had been going so wrong lately, he just couldn't take it. As he passed by the forest again he heard something. A note carried on the wind's howl.
He stilled, wanting to hear it properly. It was a whimsical melody; played on a flute, perhaps. He blinked in the rain and decided to see where it was coming from.
Du, fu fu, fu du dudufu
Fu fu dududufu, fu du du dudufu, dududududu fu dufu
Such dramatic highs and lows; the song was allurling.
Then he spotted it. A house. A tradition Japanese house was situated in a glade in the forest. It seemed to move. The contrast of dark on a day sky almost like twilight gave the house an illusionary feel. For a moment, Shin thought he was dreaming; that he would wake up and everything would be back to before the baby had been announced. But when he reached out to touch the house―to see if it was real―cold, wet wood met his fingertips in reality.
Cautiously, he entered the house.
The sound of a flute (he was sure now) was steadily growing louder now that the rain was not flooding his ears. The inside of the house was notibly neglected but not horribly so. He took off his shoes in the entranceway and stepped onto the straw mats. The first room was like a living room without furniture. He approached the sliding door inside to make his way throughout the house. But what he saw next surprised him.
Sitting on a circular window's pane was a guy dress in a black t-shirt and black jeans with long black hair. And in his hands was the flute. When Shin entered the room, the guy turned in surprise and Shin, with wide eyes and a panicked heart, fled the scene.