The street, the people and the electronics. They were all loud and noisy; just the way Kazuya preferred it. He was an only child, so he liked the multitude of people bustling around him. Of course, he had to go home eventually and there his mom would nag at his laziness and tell him to go clean his room, which was already clean in the first place. He stepped out of the gaming arcade and looked around, trying to figure out something else to do.
It was during his musings that out of the corner of his eye, he saw a dark-haired girl walking speedily in his direction, although she seemed somewhat dazed—she didn't seem to be walking in a very straight manner. He moved to what he thought was out of her way enough, but she didn't seem to know where she was going, so she plowed right into him, anyways.
"Hey, watch it!" Kazuya growled in annoyance; he thought moving spots would avoid that, but apparently not.
". . . Please excuse me." she said silently. She had inevitably lost her balance and her items were spilled on the floor and she was knelt face-down on the ground, frozen, almost as if she had been broken from her thoughts just as she had contacted Kazuya, and was still trying to catch up. Kazuya sighed and knelt down to help her collect her things. Great, now I feel like a jerk. He thought, exasperated.
"If you're going to be so spacey, sit down or at least walk with someone. You have to be careful."
"Thank you. . ." said the young girl. She turned up her head from the floor and a calm, gentle smile glowed at Kazuya, but she was still quivering from the shock; Kazuya couldn't have possibly felt guiltier. "It happens rather often, but I cannot thank your concern enough." The girl spoke with more firmness in her voice, as she slowly regained focus and assurance. She began collecting her things. Kazuya offered to help, and she refused, but he lent her a hand, anyways. Before long, all her items were safely placed back into her simple and practical bag.
He gave a small smile, noticing for the first time how small and petite she was, with short dark hair to match; yet even though she seemed young, her eyes held an incredible wisdom to them. Despite her young years, she seemed to have seen a lot in her small lifespan. He figured she couldn't be more than 16. Kazuya's own 18 years, though, was nothing to brag about. He held out his hand and lifted her from the ground, which he just noticed was extremely dirty—as were the parts of her clothing that came in contact with the floor.
"Oh!" Exclaimed the girl as she noticed the dirt on her clothes. She laughed and tugged at the shirt to take note of every blemished spot. "I don't think I want to do that again." She commented, more to herself than to any particular person. Kazuya spotted a small café off to the side.
"Come over here; we'll see if we can't get this dirt off your clothes." He gripped her hand and led her to a seat in the café, where Kazuya found napkins and handed them to her. After a few moments she let out a frustrated sigh and shook her head in dismay.
"I don't think I'll ever be getting this dirt out unless I go home and wash them. Oh well, these weren't my best clothes, anyways." Kazuya shrugged, but inside he could feel guilt creeping in. He ignored it; it wasn't his fault, right?
He sighed and gathered the napkins in a pile on the table. "Anyways, why were you so zoned-out?"
"Oh, my mind was just occupied, is all." she said waving aside the subject. She smiled pleasantly and studied Kazuya with searching eyes. She seemed to be somewhat confused, but he doubted he had an answer to any of her questions. He suddenly felt extremely self-conscious and started to squirm a bit under her intense gaze. He jumped when she spoke again, despite how loud it already was, but he welcomed the end of the silence. "May I repay you for your kindness?" she asked suddenly. Kazuya laughed and shook his head.
"I didn't do anything; you have nothing to thank me for!" But the girl shook her head.
"Please, I think you did something. Will you meet me here tomorrow so I can return your deed?" Kazuya sighed.
"I . . . I guess so." He found himself smiling. "If you honestly believe you should, then how about we meet here tomorrow at around . . . 9:30 AM?"
"Yes! That will do perfectly!" She stood up in excitement and beamed at him, clapping her hands together.
"Hey, look out!" He suddenly pushed her aside as an incredibly random package flew through the air and cut through the space where she had just been and, consequently, smacked Kazuya square in the face. "Ow." He stated. My reflexes seem to be in excellent condition, Kazuya thought bitterly.
"Oh my gosh, are you ok?" she said, shocked. Looking around for the culprit, she spotted an arguing couple in the street, not too far away, and they were obviously going at it with all they had. She was horrified that they had the nerve to allow an innocent bystander to become involved in their petty argument.
"Yeah, I'll live." He sat up, rubbing his temples. "Dang, that hurt! What was that?" He saw the package and its contents, jewelry, letters, and key chains, strewn across the floor.
"Look, now your clothes are all dirty!" fumed the girl, noticing the dirt smudged on Kazuya's pants.
"Nah, don't sweat it. I'm wearing mostly black, anyways." He stood up and looked around, rubbing his head. It didn't take too long to spot the arguing pair and he shook his head to clear his befuddled mind. So many unfortunate things happened that day. "What a pain," He stated as his pocket buzzed. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and sighed as he was immediately plunged into his mother's scolding.
"Do you have to go?" the girl asked as he hung up. Kazuya nodded and stuck the phone back in his pocket.
"Yeah, but I'll see you tomorrow, right?" he said. The girl beamed and nodded energetically.
"Alright, see you then." She smiled at her and made his way home. Just as he entered his room, and as his mother's nagging stopped, he realized that he never asked her name. He shrugged and went to bed.
The next day, he arrived half an hour early so he could eat some food before meeting her, but he realized that he didn't have his wallet with him, and ended up waiting the entire time.
"Ah!" Kazuya turned around and saw the girl with a brilliant smile on her face. He noticed that her smiles seemed to come effortlessly and he couldn't help but wonder why she hadn't been scouted yet.
"Morning. What's up?" he laughed as she held out a small plain cardboard box with a small note taped to it. "Thanks, what's in it?"
"Now, if I told you, what kind of surprise would it be?" She giggled and sat down across from him as he reached to open the note.
To you who saved me, it's the best I can do to repay you.
Kazuya was slightly taken aback at the "saving" aspect; she was exaggerating it, but enjoyed the sense of humor behind the "signature". He immediately became curious as to what was in the box; so he started picking at the seams.
"Don't open it until you get home!" She ordered and snatched the box from his grip. Kazuya suppressed a glare, but eventually found humor in the situation and grinned a bit.
"Yeah, yeah." he sighed and sat back to stare at her.
"How old are you?" She was slightly taken aback by the question.
"Older than I look." She replied vaguely, handing him back the box.
". . . Right." Kazuya took it and looked around aimlessly; he spotted the arcade he was at the day before. He remembered a certain dance game that he particularly liked and decided that he would show this girl what he did on a regular basis, and he would let her try out a few other games in the arcade. He turned to her and found her staring at him but she quickly averted her gaze. After a moment, he spoke.
"Would you mind if I showed you something?" Her head snapped back to him.
"Of course not!" she replied happily, standing up with enthusiasm, "Where to?"
"Over there, across the street."—he pointed—"It's a videogame arcade; a really popular one, actually." Kazuya began to lead her along the sidewalk as he started babbling about his favorite games, all of which the girl knew nothing about, but she was interested so she listened carefully. In mid-sentence, a small object flew across the path of the pair and struck the ground in front of their shoes. They both jumped and looked around; Kazuya spotted not too far from the crosswalk the same couple fighting as the day before. Judging from the motions, he figured the object thrown was a ring, probably of the promise or engagement variety. Even though the street was already busy, he could barely hear the couple's shouts, though making out individual words were beyond capability.
"Looks like we'll have to go near them to get to the arcade," He sighed and quickened his pace in order to make the passage quick and painless.
"Wow, they're really going at it." She commented with slight wonder. The crosswalk signal bid the road safe to cross and they began walking across the road.
"Ugh, I've HAD it!" The woman yelled and stormed off into the street. Kazuya saw the woman appear beside him and rush across the street in front of him. She was just in the two-thirds of a way across when a car screeched; it hadn't seen the stop light. Kazuya leaped to the woman in attempt to push her out of the way, but the car swerved and changed course for Kazuya. He wasn't expecting this and couldn't register what to do next. Then he felt pressure on his body where the young girl pushed him out of the way of the car, which in turn traded her fate for Kazuya's.
There was silence for only a moment, where everyone present was holding their breath. The noise came, though, and it was obvious that everyone was disturbed.
"Someone call an ambulance!"
"Is the driver OK?"
"Is she alright!?"
She got hit by a car. I don't think she's feeling so hot. Kazuya thought. He was only slightly surprised at his sarcasm, but his bitterness was justified. Forgetting the woman, he launched himself to the girl and saw that there was next to no chance she would survive that hit. The car was moving fast, and he knew that the girl was already delicate. He wouldn't put it past possibility that this was her last day on earth.
He kneeled down beside her and lifted her in his arms, more delicately that he had his little sister at birth, more delicately than anything he had ever handled. He could feel beneath her skin how damaged her body was, not to mention how her outward appearance was. None of her limbs seemed to bend at unnatural angles, but that didn't reassure him in the slightest. He heard her breath stagger as he moved her and knew how much pain she was in. Despite how much he knew she was hurting, she started to speak.
"Don't forget to . . . open it when you get home. . ." She spoke in rasping breaths. It was painful to watch.
"Why did you . . .?"
"You saved me." She said. Kazuya couldn't understand; she saved him. But he could tell that she was using every bit of effort to speak; his chest burned with guilt. "Be sure . . . to open. . ." She stopped speaking for a moment but Kazuya panicked slightly.
"Yes, I will! Don't worry about that! I-"
"I will worry," She breathed. "If I choose to."
Kazuya would have replied, earnestly assuring her that everything would be alright, if she hadn't done the most upsetting thing possible: she smiled. She was in the worst situation possible, and she was smiling.
He hardly noticed as the clothes beneath him quickly became soaked in salty tears. Helplessly watching her as her eyes faded and a dim siren sounded in the background. He couldn't breathe. It was physically impossible.
"I hope . . . to see you once more. . . ." she said finally.
And she died.
He couldn't quite understand how he supposedly "saved" her, but as he made it home late that day, he made sure to carry the package she gave him everywhere he went. First it was the hospital, which he left early, unable to confront her relatives, then from the police station, and finally from the arcade that they met at. There he lingered, ignoring all the strange stares he was receiving because of his blood-stained attire.
Once he had gotten home, his mom started to yell at him for not coming home when he was asked to. Ignoring her ranting and sitting down at his desk, not bothering to change, he carefully and solemnly opened the plain package. Inside he found a letter and a little wooden box with a lock on it; he half-heartedly attempted to open it before looking for the key. Once he opened the letter, however, he saw the key taped to the edge of it. He began reading with little difficulty the neat and pleasant hand-writing.
I know that you have never mentioned your name, so let me explain. When I turned eight, I began to see images of things that would come to pass. I knew the phone would ring before it did, and I would dream of an acquaintance before I met them. You, however, I saw most frequently, probably because you would be with me the day I died. But I only saw the last moments of my life, and I didn't understand why I saved you. I distrust people; many have deceived me in my lifetime and I have grown accustomed to not socializing. Every time I awoke from the dream of my death I wondered "Why did I save that man?"
As the time grew nearer, I began to see the event much more clearly, and I grew more anxious. I was having the most vivid Day vision of my death, in which I just learned what day and time it would take place, when I ran into you. I was stunned at first, because I hadn't been paying attention, but it didn't occur to me until I looked up and saw your face did that it was the meeting that I had been anticipating. I immediately realized your kindness and although I wasn't ready to give my life for you at the time, I knew that you would be worth saving. However, I don't think until my final act will I know why you are the only person I would give my life for.
My mother died at my birth, and I am out of contact with my entire family, excluding my husband and single child.
--"She has a kid!?"Kazuya gaped, "How old is she??"--
I knew she liked music, and that she had wanted me to have this music box, but my life in exchange for hers was the cause of quite a bit of bitterness in my family and I wasn't able to obtain it for quite a while. Eventually, though, I got it and when I heard the sweet melody that I played, I changed for the better. But that isn't out of the ordinary, because music does that to people. I hope that you will teach your daughter the greatness music and how it heals people. It will greatly benefit both her, and her acquaintances that she comes across.
I thank you for your compassion and I encourage you to show others the kindness you showed me. It will reward you beyond comprehension.
Your Gravity-Affected Acquaintance
He sighed at the lack of a signed name, "I guess I'll never know" he groaned, and detached the key from the paper. The opened the music box played a soft melody that calmed his nerves, but sadly didn't aid his muddled mind. Nevertheless, one surprising notion clearly penetrated his total mess of thoughts.
Since when do I have a daughter?