So as it turns out, I'm grounded as of tomorrow morning (which is really stupid because the reason is really stupid and I'm an adult, for crying out loud) which means that I'm posting this two days early (thank goodness I finished it this morning) because I may not be able to Thursday. So yay! Kind of.
This also means that I probably won't get the chance to write for who knows how long, which means that I may not be posting anything for who knows how long. On the bright side, this chapter is about twice my chapters' normal size! Yay for you!
After that, Milo made sure to check to see if she came back every day. The first couple of days he would sit by the corner of the school building and wait, but she never came. When he realized she wasn't going to show any time soon, he decided it wasn't worth loosing lunch with his friends and began sitting with them again, but he would regularly glance over to see if she was there watching them. There were simply too many questions that he wanted answers to, needed answers to, to just give up on finding her.
His friends noticed his growing obsession too, of course, not that he would ever admit that it had become an obsession. They would joke about it occasionally, but in a way that Milo felt that they were being serious. He treasured his friends more than this mystery, and so when he got the message his friends were trying to tell him, he tried to let the girl slip from his mind. It was a feat easier said than done, though, because there was nothing Milo enjoyed more than a mystery, especially one in real life.
When his friends weren't around, he would find himself wanting to know more about this god. For a while, he wasn't sure about what to do or where to look to find out about this girl, but he got the idea that maybe he should ask the one person who had told him about the god in the first place: Grandma Betty.
And so that weekend he set out to find her. He didn't see her around much, probably due to a lack of mobility, and he didn't have a clue as to where she might live. He would, however occasionally see her sitting by the shrine, and so with a mind and body ready for adventure, he set his course towards the sea.
He easily made the short trip down to the path that led to the shrine, humming a soft tune he had heard his mother sing a hundred times and looked out towards the horizon. The ocean was absolutely beautiful. It shone just as brightly as first day he had moved to this small town, and the temperature was a perfect blend of sun and subtle wind. He could vaguely remember when he was little and he lived in a place where the sun didn't shine every day. Even after all the years of living in that little town by the sea, it never ceased to amaze him.
When he got close to the tree, he looked where the bench sat, but there was no sign of the old woman. Not wanting to go home quite yet, he finished his trek to the little stone shrine, although once he was there he wasn't sure about what to do.
"Well that was a bust…" Milo stood in front of the rock statue and gave a sigh. "What should I do now?" His attention was instantly drawn by the quiet rustling of something nearby. He stood absolutely still in the hopes of hearing the noise again, taking it as a sign, but everything went completely still again. "Hello?" He said out loud to anyone who might have been listening. "Is someone there?"
There came a soft mumbling no louder than a sigh from close by. He suddenly knew that he wasn't the only person to have come to visit the shrine.
Following the direction of the sound, he tiptoed his way around the tree. As he expected, he found a small figure curled up beneath the shade of the tall tree with a brown blanket covering her head and draping over her back. Milo got down on his knees in front of her and bent his head low to get a good look at her face, but no matter how far down he got, the blanket was too low to see her eyes. With a cautious hand, he grabbed the hem of the blanket and lifted it up over her face.
It was the first time he had gotten a good look at her; one where she wasn't shrouded by a mask or he wasn't chasing after her or looking at her from afar, and she was probably the most beautiful person he had ever seen. Her wispy white hair spread down her back in curls that, even from up close, resembled clouds. Her fair skin was slightly red and freckled from the sun. Everything about her was a pale white sans the specks of red of the ribbons that tied her hair into twin tales and slightly parted rose dusted lips. It was a picture which radiated innocence and helped further along by her peaceful sleeping face. He sat back in awe, never taking his eyes off of her. He wanted to etch the vision of her into his memory.
Closed eyes squeezed tighter from the sunlight that was filtered through, unprotected by her blanket. She brought up a hand and began to rub tired eyes like a child might and soft lashes fluttered open, adjusting to the new light. In that moment, Milo decided he liked her eyes most of all.
They were a shade of blue he had never seen in someone's eyes before. It was like looking at the ocean on a perfectly still day when the light reflected off the glassy surface at just the right angle or like a clear blue sky on a warm summer day. They were transparent in a that you felt you could see the bottom of those watery depths, down to the bottom of her heart, and what he saw there was someone untainted by hate or bitterness or anything dark. She was pure down to the core of her very being. It was almost as if she were the embodiment of peace. But in return, she could see deep down into your heart too. When he looked at her, he could feel her stripping away any lies and facades that he held up around him, some of which he didn't even know he had, and she saw him for who he really was. While eyes like that may have made most people uncomfortable, it gave him a sort of thrill knowing that someone could look at him, and with that single glance, understand him better than most people he knew.
Suddenly aware of the situation she was in, the girl jumped to her feet, back pressed firmly to the trunk of the tree and stared wide eyed at the boy in front of her. It was the same look she had given him when he caught her in the school yard. Frantically looking around for an escape, she quickly stepped to her side, ready to make a run for it with the speed Milo distinctly remembered, but he had seen the look in her eyes and grabbed her by the hand before she could make it out of his reach.
"Wait!" He called out, stopping her struggling in his tight grip as she tensed next to him. "Please don't go. I'm not going to hurt you, I swear. I just want to know your name." She looked at him with the eyes of a cornered animal as her chest began to heave with obvious panic. All attempts to escape forgotten, she brought her free hand to her face, her features scrunching up and eyes swelling with tears. Milo also felt panic when the girl's shoulders and head curled inward and tears streamed down her face accompanied by quiet sobs. He quickly let go of her hand, afraid that he might have squeezed too hard, but she made no move to run away. "No wait! I'm sorry! I didn't hurt you, did I? Please don't cry. Please, please don't cry!" He looked around frantically trying to find something to cheer her up. He reached into his pockets and pulled out the apple he had brought with him and handed it to her. "See? I come in peace." He gave her a sheepish grin and in return she brought her hands down from her face and looked at him. Her face was still marred with tear streaks, but at least his gesture stopped the crying.
With a tentative hand, she reached out and barely touched the apple, almost unsure if she should take it. "Please, I insist." He encouraged. The girl looked up at him for one last reassurance, and when he smiled down at her she smiled shyly back up at him and took his gift. His face lit up and with renewed confidence, he gently grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the bench to sit down. He could feel her tense again for a second, but she relaxed enough to let him pull her along.
He let her sit down and took a seat next to her. Unsure of what to do now that he had her attention, he sat with his fingers nervously fidgeting with each other. The tension was obviously contagious because she also sat there and ran her hand over the smooth red skin of the apple but made no move to eat it.
"Um… If you want to eat that first, it's okay." Even to his own ears, his voice sounded small and unsure. He mentally cursed himself.
The girl looked down at it, but softly shook her head and brought it closer to her as if she meant to save it.
She kept her eyes glued to her lap and he stared off into the sky, an awkward feeling settling in between the two. Milo rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled nervously, drawing her attention. "Sorry, I didn't imagine this would be so hard." When he dared to look at her, he saw her looking back at him with her full attention and she smiled at him encouragingly. Assurance renewed, he smiled back at her. "So, a good place to start is with introductions. I'm Milo. What's your name?"
She cocked her head to the side and looked at him with a questioning glance, almost as if she didn't understand his question. "M-my name?" She said so softly he almost wasn't sure she had said something at all. Her voice was exactly how he imagined it would be. It was a voice that suited her well; high, sweet, unsure and melodic, and just like everything else about her, it was beautiful.
He nodded. "Yeah, your name. What do people call you?"
He could see on her face when she realized what he meant. "People call me 'girl'." She smiled up at him.
He sat there almost unsure about what to say to a reply like that. It definitely wasn't what he was expecting to hear. "Um… You know 'girl' isn't a name, right? It's what people call you when they don't know your name." He said.
Her face fell. He could read that she knew she had answered the question wrong but couldn't tell why. Her expressions were so exposed, it practically turned her into an open book. "Well, Grandma calls me Kitten…" she said softer this time.
He could tell she was being serious, though had it been anyone else he probably would have assumed they were kidding. Cautiously, he asked, "Do you not have a name?" He watched her carefully as she looked down to her hands in her lap and slowly shook her head no. "If you don't mind me asking, why don't you have a name?" She simply shrugged her shoulders. She honestly didn't know her name. He almost couldn't believe something like that.
He could feel the tension that rolled off of her and knew that he had to do something to liven up the mood.
Milo began to laugh beside her. It was something genuine, not as if he were laughing at her and it wasn't forced; it was honest and good natured. "Well you know, if you don't have a name, I guess I'll just have to give you one." He smiled brightly at her. In return, her eyes lit up with a smile. He leaned back in the chair and put his hands behind his head in a relaxed posture. "Let's see…" He ran through possible names in his head. "You know, Kitten isn't a totally terrible name, but I think you're more like a rabbit than a cat so…" He looked at her as a painter might look at one of his painting, and she smiled back at him, his good nature contagious. "How about I call you Bunny? And if by the end of today we don't like it, we can think of something else tomorrow. How does that sound to you?" He smiled brightly down at her and she returned one to him just as brilliant.
"Yes!" She exclaimed.
"Great then! It's settled! Let's try this again." He held out a hand to her which she took with confidence. "Hello Bunny, my name is Milo. It's nice to meet you. I hope we get to know each other."