Fragments part 4 – Hitori
I remembered when she was small, she was always alone. It seemed her entire world was closed to everyone else that she was the only character, both the protagonist and the antagonist altogether. Everyone might talk about her or call her names, yet she seemed not to be affected by it, not to care, not even to hate anyone.
Her blouses had no frills. They never had. And if girls wear ribbons on their heads, she wore none. In fact, the always-dishevelled black locks were always short and now and then, people had mistaken her as a boy instead. Her smooth pretty features were striking, though; the only signature of her real self.
I remembered that her seat was far at the back of the class, far enough not to be remembered and she was the silent type. I had never heard her voice in class, because she simply didn't talk to anyone else. Because of this, I guessed, people found her weird, weirder when she came to school almost limping every day, bruises on her arms and faces.
What's wrong with her? Did she fight?
She looked like a boy, she must have!
Maybe she's just clumsy and tripped.
No one is too clumsy to trip every day.
She had a bad attitude, that's why she got hit.
She's not a decent girl, how scary!
Since no explanation ever came, people started to get scared of her and shunned her away. And, at the same moment, the bully started. It was normal to see her walked home with her school bag doodled over. It was normal to find her shoes got all worn at the shelves when the bell had rung. Sometimes, the shoes were not even there, retrieved after awhile in a dustbin. But, she had never cried, not even once, since those were all nothing to be compared afterwards. Yes, nothing to be compared with the abuse she will receive at home, the rage of a drunken father coming back from work. The hitting will get worse with the worn shoes and dirty clothes, however. Poor thing… She had no mother to protect her. She was long gone, died right after she was born. So, the only thing she could do is to endure it, of course, nothing more.
It was too much to bear, I guessed, that I had finally decided to talk to her that day, as she sat at the entrance all alone waiting for the rain to stop.
"Hey, why are you still here?" She looked at me who was then stooping over her with wide eyes, confusion was written all over her childish face.
"I forgot my umbrella." Ah, the ring of her voice! Despite of the surprise just now…
"Then, why not just run through the rain? Tanoshii desu yo!"
"My clothe will get wet, I don't want to get into trouble."
"Heeeehh?" I grabbed onto her shoulders with my small hand and leaned my face so close to hers. I could feel her body shuddered ever so slightly to the touch and tensed. Our bangs were brushing against each other's cheeks. "Now that I'm looking at you this close, your eyes are pretty. They are dark but almost purple."
"You're annoying," she said flatly. With that I quickly released her.
"Hidoii, Aki-chan, though I like you very much." Another surprise swept through her face, I could tell, yet, she acted like she didn't care.
"Then, don't come and sit with me."
Her reaction was cute, even though it was rude to say so to a person you speak for the first time. Everyone said about the bad attitude she had. They were probably right. But, they were wrong about one thing; she's not scary… She's a shy person, instead. A mirthless smile started to appear on my lips.
"But, you look sad and lonely; I don't want you to get lonely."
"Why should you care," she replied, sweeping away an overgrown lock from her face with her hand, slowly tugging it behind her ears. A sight of a bruised hand had made something inside of me cringe.
"Hmm… because it is bad to become lonely," I said. My voice sounded strangely distant then.
"How bad is that? I like to be alone."
"Well, lonely people will become crazy one day, Aki-chan!"
"Yes, crazy! Like something wrong had happened in their brain!"
"Then, I'm already am. And I guess you are too; being all closed to a stranger."
"But, we are classmates!"
"A classmate you know nothing about is still a stranger."
"Mou, Aki-chan wa zurui!" I hugged both my knees and pouted. Aki, sitting beside me sighed. The conversation was dead between us and the hissing sound of the rain took over. Even so, much to our surprise, slowly and just as silently, we began to enjoy each other's company.
"Nee, kimi" I turned to her only to find dark eyes clutching my entire body.
kimi mo sabishii darou."
Something had sunk in to the weight of her words and my eyes were eternally locked to Aki's dark unwavering eyes. When there was no answer coming from me, she continued to look ahead, staring at the endless rain. Then, with the same flat voice of hers, though with a little tinge of curiosity, she asked about my name.
"Akari. My name is Akari," I told her.