A/N: I wrote this story over a time span of *thinks* half a week, maybe. Including rereading and editing. The final edits were made by moonflash (aka Ralphael). Thanks to him you need not suffer many of the stupid mistakes I have made with my english grammar, punctuation and spelling. On a final note, enjoy the story and I'd love comments. Good or bad ones will do fine, thank you. =)
Robin was hanging upside down on the playground with a goofy grin on his face.
A small girl approached him wearing a pink-coloured paper hat.
'Why are you hanging upside down like that?' she queried.
The boy's wild eyes stared at her in amazement.
'Are you joking!?' he breathed, full of exhilaration. 'Seeing the world upside down is so much more fascinating than seeing it like you normal people.'
The girl raised an eyebrow.
'But how? It's just flipped over.'
'Exactly!' the boy exclaimed, and he lost balance slightly.
He thought, quite honestly, that the girl was very strange and boring. He then confused himself slightly. Boring and strange normally didn't go together well.
'Your face is going red,' the girl observed, crouching down so that her eyes were level with his own. The boy was beginning to feel faint.
'That's because this is all so very interesting. See that balloon over there? Patrick just let go of it and it's going downwards!'
His face was becoming redder and redder by the second.
'Downwards! Instead of upwards!' he said in amazement, 'Isn't it fascinating??'
'Uh- I don't really think so. I don't see how everything flipped is-' the girl suddenly stopped talking and watched dumbly as the boy's eyes rolled into his head. He hit the rugged tanbark ground with a small thud.
He had passed out.
* * *
'Ah! Robin!' boomed a rather joyous fatherly figure.
Robin thought he should know who it was, but in truth he had absolutely no idea and dismissed himself explaining he had to go to the bathroom.
He didn't, of course.
He ducked underneath the large arms and retreated to a comfortable piece of brick wall.
Large family gatherings like this annoyed him, especially since it was his own.
His mother had invited all his old school friends and their parents, along with all his few new friends as well… He bitterly remembered the conversation.
He had lurched in his computer chair and spun around cautiously as his mother burst through the bedroom door. 'Honey,' she said eagerly, 'Is it alright if we invite a couple of friends over for your birthday?'
'I'm having a birthday par-'
'Yes, yes you are, sweetie, so can I invite some people over?'
Robin stared blankly into his mother's face. Her eyes were keen and he sadly noted how rare it was for her to look so excited.
He gave in, 'Yes, alright.' He imagined a small gathering of friends over for a coffee or something. To his chagrin he found that this wasn't the case at all.
Robin debated if he could excuse himself early from the party and retire to his room.
He didn't like interacting with people he wasn't familiar with. It made him uncomfortable that so many people knew him (with him knowing so little about them).
He sighed and, looking nervously around a corner, was met with his mother's anxious gaze.
'What's the matter?' She sounded saddened. 'Don't you like your party?'
Robin put on a brave smile.
'No, no, I love it. It's fantastic. Thanks a lot. I'm just finding it hard to…' he paused, searching for the right word, '…meld in with everyone.'
Robin's mother smiled and gave him a hug.
'Happy 18th Birthday, Robin.' Her voice was shaky in his ear.
Robin hadn't been hugged for many months so the gesture made him feel a bit awkward.
He also secretly thanked his mother for not calling him Robbie like she normally did on birthdays or on any other special occasion, like helping with the washing. He admitted that many children had it a lot worse, but he quite liked his name without it being changed, even by his own mother.
Robin told her he thought she looked very pretty in the blue dress and that it brought out her eyes, and also asked if his father had been invited to the party and if he was here.
His mother completely ignored the question.
'Oh!' she exclaimed, 'I just remembered. I invited Emily over. Do you remember Emily? You were friends with her in primary school and some of high school as well, I think.'
Not wanting to say he had completely forgotten who Emily was he said, 'I think I remember her…' pretending to look thoughtful as if he was scouring his memory.
'You first met her at Patrick's eight birthday party, but I can understand if you don't remember her.' She looked slightly disgruntled, but then lit up, 'She was the one talking to you when you passed out on the playground for the first time!'
Something in Robin's eyes switched.
'Uh, yeah, I think I remember her…' he said slowly, 'Anyway, I'm just going to my tree… I just want to rest a bit.'
He dodged the groups of chattering people and ignored the girls who called out his name, making his way through the bushes to the back of the yard. A large, strong tree stood against the fence and he was surprised to see that a girl was already sitting on the tree where the trunk split into a fork, close to the ground.
The girl being skinnier than the tree made Robin wonder if she was sick.
Robin edged nearer and the girl looked up, clearly blind to the fact that she was sitting in his tree. His favourite spot. His… he paused… the fact that she was poking an almost untouched piece of cake only increased the chances of his hypothesis being correct.
'Is there something wrong with the cake?' he asked slowly, eyeing the marble cake which had become a crumble on the paper plate in her hand.
'Uh… no,' the girl said absent-mindedly, 'I just, I don't feel very hungry.'
There was an awkward silence, the girl was staring very scrutinisingly at Robin and he looked nervously at his feet.
He wanted her to leave so he could have his spot back. He always came here when he needed to think or let off some steam. Right now he just needed to think.
'Um,' he hesitated, lifting a hand, 'I was wondering if you could move a bit so I could sit on the tree…because it's my tree.'
The girl continued to stare at him and Robin began to wonder if she was even listening.
'We can share it can't we?'
He really didn't want to share his tree with somebody else, especially a girl.
'Okay, I'll leave.'
The girl stood up and walked past Robin without a word. As she left the small clearing he sat down where she had been sitting and sighed.
He thought about the encounter he had just had, about the mysterious Emily he found hard to remember, about his father and how little he wished to see him. Staring at the star-sown sky, he thought about the divorce and how his mother had become so unhappy. Ever since they split she never looked quite the same.
He clenched his fist and ignored a small girl walk up to the tree, look at him as if he was an animal in a zoo and then run off. She was closely followed by a small boy.
Robin ignored the chatter he could hear in the distance. He ignored the chirping of the cicadas and the sound of rustling autumn leaves.
Robin didn't understand why dad had decided to marry mum if he was in love with somebody else. This time he couldn't ignore the sound of a twig snapping and looked up.
It was that girl. And she had a new slice of cake.
'What?' he snapped, 'Going to ruin another piece of perfectly okay cookery?'
The girl was unperturbed. 'No, I ate the other slice. I got another one because I thought you would have wanted one.'
Completely lost, Robin blinked, 'Huh? Why?'
The girl gave him a paper plate and a plastic fork. The piece of cake suddenly looked sodden and depressed.
'Don't you remember who I am?'
A name popped into his head but he ignored it. He stabbed the cake and took a bite out of it.
'No idea. Sorry. Now if you don't mind, I'd rather be alone.'
Calm. Serene. Unmoving. The girl didn't as much as flinch.
'Why? It's your party. You're not supposed to be unhappy on your birthday party. Especially your 18th.'
Robin grunted. His mouth was full of cake.
The girl leaned against the tree, the willow's leaves moving in the evening breeze.
'My name is Emily, in case you can't remember.'
Robin's eye twitched. It was exactly the same name that had popped into his head earlier. But why was he so surly about it? He didn't understand. He took another bite of the cake.
'Yeah. Hi… Emily,' he mumbled, feeling his misery pour over him again. Then he added 'Why are you still here? Why do you care?'
'Sorry, I'll leave you alone if you have a problem with me being here.'
She strode away leaving Robin with the weird feeling that something was horribly wrong and that he had forgotten something very important.
'Thanks for the cake,' He muttered, more to himself than anyone else.
Lying against the tree's firm body he drifted in and out of sleep only to be awoken a few hours later by his mother.
Robin stumbled to his feet and welcomed the support of his mother who was surprisingly strong for somebody so emotionally fragile. She dragged him out to the clearing where lights had been lit. The backyard was bustling with movement and there was the buzzing of chatter.
'Hon, get up, wake up, it's nearly time.'
Robin was disgruntled. He wasn't properly awake yet, still trapped in his dream world. 'Time for what?'
He swayed and looked around faintly, his eyes heavy. He couldn't help wondering if his piece of cake had been mixed with something so he couldn't wake up properly.
Robin hardly noticed when a glass was shoved into his hand. Suddenly realising how thirsty he was and longing for a nice cup of cold water, he gulped the substance down.
There was a collected silence.
He realised very quickly that what he had just swallowed wasn't water. It was vodka. Or some other powerful alcoholic substance.
He coughed and spluttered as there was a cheer from the crowd. If it had been water it had been mixed with a harsh poison and boiled to a very high temperature. How could adults like this stuff? It tasted horrible and burned his throat.
He skulled the rest of it in one go, although he spilt almost all of it on the ground in the process. To dispel the burning taste in his mouth, Robin shook his head violently, but it only made him feel dizzy.
'You're eighteen now!' a voice called out. Whoever they were, they sounded drunk. 'You must be able to survive an alcoholic drink!'
Robin retorted, 'I have!' then he hiccuped and excused himself.
The crowd was full of happy, unfamiliar people. Robin skimmed through the crowd and his eyes met a pair of deliciously pretty blue ones. Very calm and collected and yet the light lit them up like flames. Of course, water couldn't catch fire.
For a moment he wondered water could catch fire without using any kind of flammable liquid. He imagined himself pouring his vodka glass inside a tub of water and setting it alight. What an amusing thought.
His glass was filled clumsily with more of the dangerous liquid and he drank some more of it even though it burnt his throat.
Adults drank alcohol to forget their problems and their worries, Robin realised. He decided that they didn't really care what it tasted like as long as it made them tipsy. Experiencing this for himself, he grinned bleakly and drunk another mouthful of the horrible stuff. The glass then dropped out of his limp hand and somebody caught it before it shattered even though the ground was soft and damp.
Robin felt his eyes burn and he shut them. A few seconds later they burned again. Blinking continuously seemed to make the pain go away. But then his eyes watered.
Was this what alcohol did to an individual? Or was it the mind's expectancy coming out and making the whole thing up?
And nobody cared, except him. That's how it had always been.
Robin giggled, and then chortled, 'Have a great time everybody…' his voice extremely slurred and hardly understandable. He spun on his heel, tripped slightly, and dragged himself back to the willow tree wanting to rest on the grass and go back to sleep.
Surely dreams were more interesting than reality in this case?
He wanted to be anywhere but here.
Once he was positive he was alone at the foot of the tree he dropped the I'm-extremely-drunk-and-illiterate act. 'Hello, grass,' he said. 'You don't mind if I flatten you for a moment, do you?' He flopped onto the ground. 'Thank you, grass, you're so kind.'
It was so comfortable for such cold ground. He was so lost in his dream world that he didn't notice the foot nudging his side.
'Get up, mister.' It was a small and skinny foot so he figured it was Emily's. He also realised, a bit too late, that the voice sounded like hers as well.
Robin's voice was muffled against the ground. 'No, missy, you get up.' If Emily had understood him she might have nudged his ribs even harder, perhaps breaking them. He was more fragile than she realised.
Instead, Emily's eyes were observing Robin closely. She noticed that his Pink Floyd shirt (with a prism refracting light on it) was on backwards and facing the sky. Emily wondered if he got bored of wearing it properly or he simply put it on backwards in the morning and hadn't bothered to switch it.
Emily could hear the celebrations from back at the house. She assumed it was a family tradition for one's children to drink alcohol on their 18th birthday. Robin had not been allowed to touch any sort of alcoholic beverage, or food cooked with wine until he was 18. Not even to sip his mother's wine at dinner just to see how it tasted.
Emily pulled Robin up, and propped him gently against the tree's rough exterior.
'Don't get sick, okay?'
Her eyes moved swiftly over the paper clip chain necklace around Robin's neck. She smiled at Robin's peaceful face; thinking he was asleep – so his response startled her.
'That's the last thing I want, trust me.' Then he said, 'No actually, the last thing I want is to drink more of that stuff, then I'd be screwed. Actually, I really don't want to go back there. No. Actually-'
Emily blinked. Robin's eyes stayed firmly shut.
'Actually there are a lot of things I don't want.'
Emily sat next to him and pushed his dark hair away from his eyes. Robin didn't move.
'Like what?' she asked calmly.
His jaw clenched.
'I don't want to see my father.'
Emily nodded and sighed. She stared at the moon and felt horribly insignificant. Any feelings or thoughts of inferiority were suddenly washed out of her head when Robin's body seized up and he started coughing. It wasn't a normal cough either, Emily noted, it was one of a sick man.
'Get up; I'm taking you to bed.'
An incomprehensible mumble was all Emily heard as she pulled him up, struggling to support his weight. Her teeth grit together at the thought that it would be easier to carry Robin if she wasn't so weak and scrawny.
* * *
The young boy groaned, rubbing his head. 'My head hurts!'
He was encircled by children his own age except for the lady with the pince-nez who ushered the kids away explaining how Robin needed space to breathe.
'You passed out!' she said sharply and somewhat accusingly.
Robin jutted his bottom lip out. It wasn't his fault he had fainted!
The lady glowered at him and pushed her black hair behind her ear.
He looked around at the crowd for reassurance. None came.
At that moment he felt very unsatisfied with the human race.
The lady began to check his cranium for any marks or wounds. Robin threw a silent tantrum thinking the only scratch was on his faith for humankind.
Luckily, this feeling disappeared after a few seconds and he was left leaning against a pole with a faintly surprised look on his face. The crowd dispersed quickly to eat sweets, play hide-and-seek and tag.
The only person left was the girl looking at him with a raised eyebrow, crouching in her blue dress, careful that she didn't get it dirty on the ground.
'What's got you looking so surprised?' she asked.
Robin was excited now. 'Gravity can be reversed!' Emily picked up a piece of tanbark and dropped it. It fell to the ground.
'No it can't,' she said slowly, not fearing for the boy's sanity like a normal person, as her tone suggested.
Getting up and circling the girl, he explained, 'When I was upside down, gravity was reversed. My up, was its down. The balloon went against gravity and went downwards.' He paused, 'Only this was how I saw it… because to you gravity didn't change.'
He suddenly made a bunch of gestures which could hardly account for his utter exhilaration. The girl watched in fascination.
'I therefore conclude… That people's thoughts.... create their own world. That means we all live in a different world. Yet we live in the same. It- it might not make sense to you.' He was shaking with excitement now, 'But it seems that humans not only perceive the world, they create it as well!'
He bounced happily at his amazing discovery. The young girl didn't understand what he was so happy about. What she didn't realise is that six years later she would find that the exact same discovery had been made by a philosopher named Immanuel Kant. Only this boy had realised it at a lot earlier.
'What's your name?' the girl asked slowly, standing up and brushing down her dress.
The boy was interrupted from his little gush. 'I'm Robin.' He smirked, 'You'll remember me because I just made an incredible discovery! I can change the world with this knowledge.'
The girl watched him reproachfully and then the boy turned. 'Why? Who are you?'
He didn't seem very interested in who she was, he was just being polite.
Robin flung himself up on the pole and hung himself upside down. 'Okay, Emily. Watch me, I'll show you I won't pass out this time. I'll control myself. See?'
Emily gave him a smile and sat carefully on the edge of grass. 'I'm watching.'
Soon enough, the lady with the long black hair was back staring at Robin with a look of disbelief on her face.
* * *
Hallucinations blinded him and a fever left him writhing in bed. His bed sheets became crumpled and ended up finding a nice peaceful spot on the floor.
Emily fetched a damp cloth and put it on his head but that proved to do absolutely nothing to help his continuously rising temperature.
And so Robin was driven to hospital, sweaty and completely unaware of what was happening. Emily was next to him the whole way.
* * *
'No, I don't believe you.' the voice said stubbornly.
Robin recognised it as his mother's voice and tip toed quietly over the half completed AT-AT Lego droid and out of his room to hear more. Unlike most children who would hide under their sheets with music loud in their ears to drown out the noise of quarrelling parents, he always wanted to know what was wrong, what was always being said behind his back.
He stopped at the sound of his name.
'….Robin can't stay here anymore, how hard is that to understand?' came his father's harsh voice.
Robin could almost see his mother trembling.
'… I refuse to leave; I tell you.' His mother's voice shook. 'He belongs here!'
Robin's heart had stopped. What exactly were they talking about? Why did he have to leave?
He had to remind himself to keep breathing otherwise he would loose consciousness.
His toes felt their way across the thick rug and stopped just outside his dad's study. The good thing about rugs on the floor is that they didn't make much noise when you moved. Being inconspicuous in this house was something Robin had gotten good at over the years.
Robin saw through the crack in the door his mother being pushed against the wall brutally. She tried to keep her whimpering under control as she shoved him off. Robin was grateful he couldn't see his face, but he knew it would be contorted with rage.
'What is it that you don't understand, exactly?' his father hissed.
Robin could have been a statue, he was standing so still.
* * *
Emily jumped forward and gave the tall, scruffy boy in front of her a playful push.
'What's up?' she asked cheerfully. Robin turned sadly towards her, a pained look on his face.
'Hey, hey, what's wrong?'
A simple shake of the head was all it took for Emily to back off.
Robin shook his head and continued walking down the crowed corridor. He bumped into a few people by accident and (ignoring their looks of annoyance) made his way out the school and to the bus stop. The boy was lost, confused and terribly upset. It was natural for him at times like this to find somewhere to be alone and curl up into a ball for comfort.
Emily knew he rarely accepted help from other people. Although one time when she came over to his house to see what was wrong, she had been directed by his mother to a tree in the backyard. She remembered that day clearly…
She hadn't said anything when she had found him resting against the tree trunk. She sat next to him and looked at the ground.
Robin had wiped his tear-stained face and rubbed his red eyes and blurted out, 'What do you want?'
Emily didn't answer straight away, 'Surely, you know already?'
Sighing, he replied, 'It can't work. I won't…. I can't.'
Emily merely tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. It was nearly past her shoulders again.
Emily lifted her hand to his face, and smiled. He glared at her and then sighed again, shaking his head.
The puppy dog eyes again – Emily rolled her eyes and then laughed. She couldn't help herself. The least she could do was help him laugh again.
'Because –' Robin swallowed, a slight smile appearing on his face, 'I couldn't bear it if we split up. That would be too much, I'd just…. I'd probably be sent to hospital for attempted suicide or something.' He laughed pitilessly.
'That's not funny.' Emily sniggered, hitting him slightly. They could be so weird together.
There was a pause where the two just stared at each other. All you could hear from back at the house was laughter as the two emerged from their little hideout and retreated to the living room for chocolate chip cookies and milk. Just when they were fishing biscuits out of a tin, the phone rang.
Robin's mother picked it up. A few seconds later, the silence was broken by Emily being handed the phone.
'It's your mum, dearie.'
Emily nodded and jumped up from the leather couch, picking up the phone.
'Hi, mum, what's up?'
Robin watched her stare out the window into the backyard where flowers were starting to bloom. He looked her up and down. At the tan lines on her arms and at her goofy outback hat she wore everywhere. Being told off in the classroom for wearing hats inside definitely wasn't a new experience to her.
He decided that he didn't care what happened later. What mattered was now.
'Mum wants me back home now.'
Emily was surprised when Robin took her hand and led her out the front. It was different to the way he usually directed her to the front yard. Robin would have normally walked in front of Emily while she followed like a faithful hound.
'Mum will be here in five minutes,' she continued, vaguely aware of what was happening. The door shut behind them.
Robin took her face in his hands. 'That's what you think,' he told her.
'Eh,' Emily said stupidly. She had no idea what to do or say. Robin brought his face closer, and –
Emily jolted and Robin turned around. Emily's mum had arrived.
'So much for five minutes,' Robin said under his breath. Emily took a few steps backwards and said quickly 'thanks for having me over and-'
Robin kissed her softly on the lips.
'- and… stuff,' she finished lamely, a smile creeping across her face.
The horn sounded for a second time.
Robin grinned sheepishly, unable to control himself. He took a deep breath and fumbled with his words.
'G-Get – home, er,' he appeared to have lost all sense with words, 'ah, safely.'
Emily turned around without further ado and sprinted to her mother's silver Porsche. For some reason, Emily's mother didn't look happy and this unnerved Robin slightly. Why was she so… angry?
Maybe it was a trick of the light because when Robin looked again, Emily's mother was smiling broadly and she waved cheerfully at Robin. She cleaned her pince-nez and drove off.
* * *
'How sick is he?' Emily asked hurriedly, as Robin rolled off his bed, dropping to the floor 'Will he get better?' Robin was muttering to himself and his breathing was rapid.
Doctor Johnson took a look at a clipboard and then at the nurses helping Robin back into his bed.
'He appears to be suffering from a sever case of glandular fever.'
He scribbled something on his clipboard. Emily had a theory that doctors wrote in a new style of writing, coded especially so that normal humans couldn't understand them.
'High fever, hallucinations…' he mumbled, 'A simple Panadol will help with the fever, and thus the hallucinations will go away.'
Robin's mum was nodding furiously and seemed determined to help Robin. How, though, she wasn't sure, but surely a mother's love could overcome all obstacles?
Emily bent over Robin and kissed him clumsily on the cheek.
'I wouldn't do that if I were you, missy,' the doctor said, eyeing the girl with suspicion. 'You might get sick yourself.'
Emily smiled sweetly, the way a girl scout would when trying to sell cookies. 'I don't care. I just want him to get better.'
'Well, what's going to help him now is medicine.'
The nurses left the overcrowded room.
The doctor added, 'He hasn't consumed any alcohol in the last 24 hours, has he?' There was a pause. 'Because that would have only made it worse.'
* * *
'You're a really odd bird, you know that?' said Robin to Emily as his mother attempted to drag him away from Patrick's slowly ending birthday party.
Emily blinked and then made a noise that sounded like an owl hooting.
Robin sniggered and half tripped over his own feet as his mother took his hand and gave him a pull. Emily stifled a laugh. Robin caught her eye and gave her a death glare, only it would have been a lot more effective if he wasn't showing signs that he was about to laugh.
'Shut up,' Robin grumbled to Emily, only to receive a 30 minute lecture from his mum about bad language.
* * *
'Why can't you leave instead?' Robin heard his mother reply with equal menace.
There was a long pause and Robin considered going back to his room. He would get in a lot of trouble if he was found listening to this argument. Money, work and education hardly seemed to matter anymore. This was something more than that.
There was a rattling noise, Robin realised with astonishment that it was his dad taking a shuddering breath. 'Maybe I will,' came his father's voice.
'But this doesn't mean that Robin and Emily have to stop being together!' Robin's mother suddenly shrieked. 'They don't have to stop being friends!'
'You stupid woman, of course they do!' There was a loud thwacking noise and a horrible snap. Robin's instincts suddenly kicked in.
He burst in through the door ready to punch his father squarely in the face.
His dad was standing over his mother's distorted body. The door bounced back angrily on its hinges. A few library books fell from their places on their shelves and thudded to the floor apprehensively.
'Don't. HIT. HER,' Robin snarled, baring his teeth, his chest heaving angrily.
This could have easily had been a clearing in a forest where two wolves were growling and snapping their jaws at each other over a dead rabbit.
His dad didn't hit back when Robin rushed forward and delivered a punch to his jaw. It hurt his hand and his father looked moderately unscathed. This infuriated him even more so he tried to be civil. He pretended that his hand wasn't throbbing in pain.
'How could you do that to your own wife!?' he screeched, pointing at his mother's body on the floor. Her arm was oddly misshapen. It made him wince to look at. 'How could you do that to somebody you love!?'
Robin suddenly felt like he said something wrong because his father laughed.
'Love her?' He looked amazed. 'I don't love her.'
He spat the words out as if they meant nothing to him. It made Robin even angrier.
'What the hell? You've been lying to her and-'
But Robin was cut off. 'I haven't lied to her. She knows I don't love her.'
Robin was stunned. He was silent. He didn't know what to think. His mind went blank.
What was going on?
'Go to your room.'
Robin had been staring at his mother's limp body on the floor, so he looked up. He wondered if he had lost his voice… no sound was coming out of his throat.
'If you tell anybody about this…'
Maybe he had just lost the will to speak.
'… you'll be sorry.'
Robin looked from his mother on the floor to his dad and proceeded to run out of the room.
* * *
Robin walked across the road, his eyes filled with tears which were threatening to fall. It was all too difficult to comprehend. The sun was beginning to set and Robin found it hard to concentrate, his vision kept blurring and his head felt heavy. He stumbled half blindly through the trees and sat down, resting against an oak tree. He would miss the bus today. He wanted to walk home.
He didn't notice when another figure stumbled into view… but he didn't need to look up to know who it was.
'Wot?' Robin asked, opening an eye in annoyance. But Emily's innocent face brought even the most vicious of men back to a tranquil state.
Letting her hand brush across Robin's cheek as if it was perfectly natural, she said, 'I need to tell you something…'
Robin opened his other eye and gave her his full attention. Emily suddenly looked miserable, something that was rare for her.
'You're not going to like it.'
Robin burst out, 'I don't care!' He took a deep breath and continued softly, 'Tell me anyway…'
Emily knelt down in front of him, holding his face in her delicate hands, studying his fierce gaze. She screwed her eyes up tight before opening them again.
Robin repeated, 'Tell me…' and rubbed her arms to comfort her.
'My parents want me to leave the country,' she said. When the only reply was silence, she continued, speaking in a progressively hysteric voice, 'They've already organised me to start school there and mum really… She doesn't want me to see you anymore and… We're leaving tomorrow. It's really too soon… I don't want to leave you.'
Robin's eyes had glazed over. It was like he wasn't listening but he had hung onto every word. Abruptly, he stood up.
'What? What's wrong?' came Emily's now calm voice.
Robin's teeth gritted together, 'My parents were talking about us… And my dad leaving and…'
Robin's eyes grew wide.
Emily's voice tried to remain steady. 'I haven't actually met your dad…. Who is he?'
Robin was thinking the exact same thing. His fists clenched together.
However, in less than a second Robin's lips were over Emily's and their mouths moved against each other in a frenzy. The boy then took the girl in his arms and whispered in her ear, 'No matter what happens… I'll love you.' His breath was shallow, and he swallowed hastily. 'Even when I forget you, you'll still be in my heart... just out of view.'
It pained him to say it, but he didn't want to live with the pain Emily's departure would bring. He ran off without a further word. Emily was left alone with a forlorn tear flitting down her face.
It wasn't fair.
His mother was left aghast after Robin ran straight past her (knocking into her arm slung in a cast along the way). Up the stairs, down the narrow corridor and into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him, he went.
The only thing you could hear from downstairs was a thumping noise and the agonised yelling stifled by many layers of plaster. His mother was too frightened to go and check what he was doing; she touched her cast desolately and strode into the kitchen.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
It was the repeated sound of a fist making desperate contact with a wall.
Thud. Thud. Thu- CRACK.
A boy, only fourteen years old, was clutching his fist. His hand had broken and he was shaking with silent agony before he started yelling a string of swear words. This continued for the next five minutes.
The boy sobbed on the floor of his room, and felt around for something on his desk. He found it. A Swiss army knife. It was dragged by a shaking arm to the floor.
He would have normally used it to bring stubborn Lego pieces apart or to carve designs into wooden furniture, which he did quite frequently. Luckily his parents cared more about their son than the furniture or he would be in trouble.
The largest blade flicked out and Robin slashed angrily at his forearm. After having made five seeping cuts in his arm he noticed how little it made himself feel better. He had heard that it could help, he knew of individuals who harmed themselves to make themselves feel better. He resumed his cursing, threading a few names and words into it as he went. Tears of hurt and anger burned his cheeks and his whole body shook.
As steadily as he could he lifted himself up.
He stepped backwards and stared determinedly at the cream coloured wall opposite him.
Robin took a deep, shaking breath and ran forward.
The final thud was loud enough and lead to such a silence that Robin's mother came upstairs shortly afterwards to finally see what her son had been doing. She only knew why it had happened.
She phoned the hospital and bandaged Robin's head to try and stop the viscous red liquid oozing out of his skull.
* * *
'You should tell her the truth,' said the voice on the other side of the phone.
A trembling finger fixed itself around a telephone cord after readjusting spectacles. The room was dark and the air was thick with apprehension. Only a lamp on the bedside table gave any light.
'Would you tell Robin?' asked the woman, staring at the dark walls.
There was a pause on the other end of the phone and the other female voice answered, 'No.'
The voice continued with a hint of despair, 'It would be too much.'
* * *
'This reminds me of the last time he was sent to hospital…' Robin's mother said sadly, staring at her son's body which could have been mistaken for a corpse.
Emily forced herself to look away from Robin and to his mother. 'What do you mean?' she asked.
The chair tilted back, the rubber foot caps squeaking against the tiled floor. 'I suppose he didn't tell you. I don't know why he would; he doesn't remember much of what happened.' A fault-finding look towards Emily and, 'He broke his hand one time when he came home from school, he had also cut himself and then…' it was a painful memory, '…and then he threw himself at the wall and knocked himself out into a coma.'
Emily's eyes were wide, remembering their goodbye. 'He was serious!?' she squeaked almost manically. 'What happened then?'
Leaning forward on the chair, Robin's mother said, 'Like I said, he had put himself in comatose state, luckily he woke up a few days later, but he had forgotten quite a lot, mostly about people he had once known. Mostly you.'
Emily could only ogle.
'I've tried to help him remember, but perhaps it's for the best. He hasn't lived in agony, like you might have thought.' Then Robin's mother shook her head. 'He's been more prone to memory loss since that day… more short term, but it's not that bad.'
Emily stuttered, 'I'm really sorry…'and stared at the well polished-floor. Lights flickered ineptly above their heads. 'I understand how hard it must have been for you.'
Robin's mother just smiled, 'It's okay. Don't worry.'
Emily stared down at Robin and his neck where his paper clip necklace stood out against his seemingly normal fashion sense.
* * *
Glue. He needed glue. He stood up and wandered across the busy classroom to fetch a glue stick from a plastic box at the teacher's desk.
'What are you working on, Robin?' the teacher asked kindly, green eyes flickered to him.
He observed her blonde hair and admired the way the sun shone off it, he thought it made her glow, a bit like an angel. 'Robin?'
Robin's eyes darted up to meet the teacher's gaze and he gave her a sheepish grin. 'Come and see if you want to know.'
The woman ignored his tone and shrugged, getting up to have a look at what Robin was doing.
Robin felt the blood rushing into his cheeks; he only hoped his work would impress her. But there was a glint in his eye that only one other person noticed, the girl sitting at the next table.
The desks had been connected so that four people would be able to work in a group, sharing the same crayons, the same pencils, texters, scissors, coloured paper, and glue. Only at Robin's table the glue had all been taken by David and Melissa. He had tried to gain their attention by glaring at them long enough, but his plan was a pathetic failure.
Robin arrived at his table and pointed to what was in front of him. It was a sort of chain made of paper, cut into a diamond pattern which had been coloured red, blue, green, yellow, purple, all sorts of colours. He had even used the dodgy white crayon which always had bits of other colours stuck on it. Feathers were lying next to the chain, yet to be stuck onto it.
The teacher smiled at him, 'It's beautiful' she said.
Robin glowed and shuffled his feet nervously.
'Th- thank you,' was all he could manage, so he quickly sat down and stared at his work to try and calm himself down.
A few minutes later he returned to the teacher's desk carrying the used glue stick and the chain which had been glued together look like a crown. He pushed it onto the table, forcibly staring at the floor.
'Oh! Is this for me?' The surprised, sweet voice of Ms Karin. Robin nodded shyly. 'Thank you! That's so sweet!'
She got up from her desk and gave Robin a small squeeze; Robin tried to hide the smug look on his face.
But the girl at the table saw it. She always noticed everything the others didn't. She intercepted him on his way back to his table. 'That was nice of you. I think Ms Karin really likes you.' She smiled as his grin grew wider and he failed to hide it this time, 'But she doesn't like you like the way you want her to. She has a boyfriend.'
Robin's smile faded and he looked slightly annoyed, 'So what did you want again?' he asked bitterly.
The pearly sapphires glowed. Robin knew that look all too well.
'I think it's really cute that you have a crush on her, Robin.'
Robin scoffed at her use of the word 'cute'.
'But,' Emily continued, 'it's not going to happen between you two. I'm telling you before you do something you'll regret.'
Robin defended himself, 'I'm nine years old, and I'm old enough to make my own decisions, thank you very much.'
Emily nodded, as if to say 'That's your choice.' She could act very mature for her age sometimes. 'Oh, by the way' she took something out from behind her, 'I made this for you.'
Robin had expected her to be holding some pink and blue paper flowers so he was surprised to see Emily give him a chain of paper clips.
'What am I supposed to do with this?' he asked, holding it up as if it was infected with a nasty virus.
'Wear it.' Emily looked at him disdainfully; she took it back out of Robin's hands. 'Here, I'll put it on for you.'
Robin crossed his arms and looked sulky while Emily put it on. It hung down around his collar bone. Emily didn't expect him to thank her so she turned around and left back to her desk as the bell rang shrilly.
When Robin came back inside from lunch time he noticed that his chain-hat wasn't on Ms Karin's desk.
'Where'd you put it?' he asked anxiously, looking in the bookshelf as if he'd have any luck finding it there. Ms Karin looked at him kindly.
'It's in my desk,' she tapped the table-top approvingly, 'Don't worry.'
Robin nodded slowly and headed back to his table. It was time for History class. He was rubbish at remembering dates but he could put up with it with Ms Karin as the teacher.
When class was over Robin waited until everybody was gone and nervously plucked up his courage to say something. He felt sick now. He didn't know what he was doing. He was…
'How's your boyfriend?' Robin asked, trying to sound casual. Ms Karin was putting away books.
She laughed. 'Oh, he's good. Actually, I-'
'Is he a jerk?' Robin blurted out. He had this idea in his head that Ms Karin was constantly being abused by her boyfriend and that she needed some sort of comfort.
Ms Karin looked nervously around, 'Uh… No. No, he's not.' She stared at him curiously.
There was an awkward silence, perhaps made even worse by what Robin said next.
'Ms Karin, I really like you.'
Ms Karin looked at him in a way that made him feel extremely inferior, pathetic and useless and so he added, a bit too late.
'You're a good teacher.'
A nod. That was all. And she walked out of the classroom and to the door, waiting. Robin had the feeling that he had lost his stomach somewhere.
'You should go home, Robin. Your parents must be worried about you.'
Robin sniffed and head towards the door. He walked out feeling extremely self-conscious. Before he left the corridor which had been plastered with paintings and posters he looked, almost as a subconscious action, into the rubbish bin.
In there was the crown he had made for Ms Karin. He scrunched up his face and then bolted, trying to leave his memory behind as he ran.
* * *
It had been only a day since Robin returned from the hospital, so he was surprised to see the girl named Emily at his doorstep the next morning.
'Oh, hello,' he said blandly, 'you're the cake-girl.'
Emily gave a small smile and pointed at the door. 'Can I come in?'
'Sure!' Robin said, motioning inside. Emily strode inside, wearing what looked like a cowboy hat, a bit like the ones stereotypical outback Aussies would wear. She sat down on one of the steps leading upstairs.
Emily said plainly, 'My father wants to see you.' Robin's eye twitched.
'Why the hell does he want to see me?'
Emily shrugged, 'It's my dad. I think he wants to talk to you about….well, I don't know what. But he made it sound like a really big deal.'
Robin looked around for somewhere to hide, 'he's not coming here is he?'
'He's already here. He's the person who drove me here.'
Robin looked nervous and sat down on the step as Emily walked outside of the house to fetch her dad. Robin fingered his necklace fretfully and looking down, realised that his shirt was on backwards. He quickly spun it around the right way, feeling like a bit of an idiot.
It was as if it all happened in slow motion. Emily walked in and motioned towards the door.
'This is my father.'
Robin noticed, with a frustrated edge, that Emily's father looked a lot like his own dad. Robin gave a grim smile. The thing that he hated about his father is that he looked so much like him. He had the same messy hair, and the same eyes. It was like he saw his father in the mirror each day.
Something was gnawing at his insides. Robin suddenly found himself shocked. Emily's dad didn't just look like his father.
Emily's dad was his father.
The whole picture was complete. Everything made sense. It was the last piece in the puzzle. It explained everything. Bits of Robin's life that he thought he had forgotten for good came flooding back into his brain in flashes. He lifted his hand slowly. He remembered what happened to his mother. He remembered what happened between Emily and him. He remembered everything.
Robin brought his shaking hand to point at his father. 'Y-you.'
Even his voice shook. Emily suddenly ran to Robin's side. 'What? What's the matter!?' she whispered.
Robin stared at Emily with a mad face. 'Don't you understand!? Don't you see?'
Emily obviously didn't.
'That is my father,' he said coldly, giving his dad the most hateful look in the world. 'We have the same dad.'
Silence. And a grin from his father. 'Do you understand why we had to move away, now, son?'
Emily held her hand to her head and sat back down on a step, her eyes filled to the brim with confusion. But Robin knew that she would understand in a few moments.
'Yes I do,' he snarled. Robin felt an incredible urge to spit on the ground at his father's feet but he didn't really want to clean his own saliva from the floor later. 'But that doesn't matter.'
His father, an older version of himself, laughed, full of incredulity. 'Like hell it doesn't.' His voice dripped with sarcasm. It made Robin sick.
'Why were you even with my mother then?' Robin demanded. This was the only thing he didn't understand. 'If you didn't love her. Why…?'
There was no reply from his dad, from his father, the traitor.
'You only gave us hell! Why did you do it!?' Robin shrieked, 'Why?? Don't just stand there, you coward. Answer!'
'This is what I wanted to talk to you about, Robbie.'
Robin flinched at his use of the name. 'Don't call me Robbie.'
'You want a f-cking answer? Then you'll get it, damn you, so shut up.' His father growled, 'Your mother was having trouble paying the bills for her house, and I had, due to my foolishness, left her pregnant with you. Her parents wanted us to marry seeing as I had given her a child. Her parents paid for everything and when it was over I was left with a woman I didn't love.'
He breathed in; he was starting to calm down. Robin however, was still staring at him with wild eyes. The wolves were out again fighting against each other this time. Claws ripping into flesh, teeth snapping and tearing at limbs. At least, they were in his head.
As his father continued to speak he remembered something from his early childhood… Something about hanging upside down from a pole and watching a balloon going downwards.
'Although, a few months later, I met my girlfriend. She works as a teacher…'
'Gravity can be reversed!'
'However, I couldn't leave your mother alone; she had trouble coping with life on her own. She couldn't pay me with money in return for the money I lent her with my job, so she payed me with…'
Circling the girl, he explained, 'When I was upside down, gravity was reversed. My up, was its down. The balloon went against gravity and went downwards.' He paused.
'Only this was how I saw it… because to you gravity didn't change.'
'Soon my girlfriend was pregnant with,' he stopped, 'Emily, here. We were happy. Yet I couldn't move in with my girlfriend properly, your mother needed me.' A smirk, 'It was only after we found out about your relationship together… many years later…'
'I therefore conclude… That people's thoughts.... create their own world. That means we all live in a different world. Yet we live in the same. It- it might not make sense to you.'
'…that, as you two were having a relationship against blood law, we decided not to tell you and to simply split you both up by moving away. Robin, your mother coped when I left. I was finished with her; she was earning enough money to pay for you both although occasionally she would send a letter to me asking for more cash. So, I gave it to her.'
He was shaking with excitement now, 'But it seems that humans not only perceive the world, they create it as well!'
Robin swallowed and looked up at his father's face. He wasn't sure what to think. It sounded reasonable but…
'There's no point trying to split us up,' Robin started, looking at Emily.
His father smiled, 'Glad to see you both finally see reason. You cannot be lovers. You can only be friends.'
Robin shook his head and Emily stood up and took Robin's hand, she was half hiding behind him. 'No. Even though we share the same blood… I will still love Emily.'
This was perhaps the wrong thing to say. Their father exploded at them.
'You cannot possibly do such a thing! Does it not… sicken you to know that you share the same blood? That you are of the same blood line? Do you not know of the consequences you would have to deal with? Do you?'
Robin tried to stare his father down.
'You will be rejected by all the people you cared about, they will be repulsed by you. They will not wish to speak to you lest they gain the same curse you have. Foolish children.'
There was a pause. 'Are you done?' Emily asked.
Suddenly Robin's father bounded forward and slapped Emily across the cheek. As she pulled back, he met Robin's cold gaze.
'You will be rejected by all the people you cared about, they will be repulsed by you. They will not wish to speak to you lest they gain the same curse you have,' repeated Robin sternly, 'For hitting your own children. For hitting your own wife.'
Silence from all of them. The two men glared at each other as if daring the other to make a move.
'If you don't mind… I'm leaving,' Robin said slowly, and determinedly pulled Emily past their father.
The air was extremely tense, as if his father was making all the effort in the world not to yell or move. They reached the front door and walked outside, locking the man inside. The noise from the door shutting died down, then there was an uproar from inside.
Their father was yelling swear words at them.
So they ran.
Ran as fast as they could down the street.
Neither Robin nor Emily cared what was behind them; they didn't even care what was ahead of them. They didn't care if people would ignore them, if they were disgusted by them. It didn't matter because they loved each other.
The sun was setting behind them and there was now only blue sky in front of them, not a cloud in sight. They only continued to increase the distance between themselves and the house. They soon reached a fork in the road, panting. Instead of going left or right, they went straight ahead, into the wood. The exhilaration from running and from escaping had them laughing with joy.
They walked past pine trees and kicked pine cones across the ground. They soon came to a stop at a tree. It would have been just like all the other trees, but it was different. It was different because they were there. No other tree got to shelter them as they kissed fervently, birds cawing above their heads. Nobody else would know about them, and if they found out it didn't matter because they had each other.
The balloon was flying towards the ground. Robin was hanging upside down again, watching it with enthusiasm. Emily was staring at him with an impish smile on her face.
'You're really weird, you know that?' Robin asked Emily very seriously.
Emily giggled, 'You're quite an odd bird yourself.'
Robin spun around the pole and brought himself upright, smiling at the girl. 'You're weird, but you know?' Robin looked at the orange balloon flying higher and higher into the sky before he said, 'I like you anyway.'
Emily looked shy, but in high spirits.
Going a bit pink she said, 'Yeah.'
Robin grinned at her and let Emily finish.
'I like you too.'