Click click click...
Click click click...
Click click click...
That's the end of that match. I'm out.
Well, I'm hungry now so I best cook myself breakfast. I push a button on my PC with my toe and shut down my computer. Glancing to my right, I notice a certain trophy.
'Exemplary Student Of The Year: Yusei Susumu' it says oh so triumphantly. How arrogant. Yeah, that Yusei isn't me. Or at least, he was me, just not anymore.
As the monitor's screen fades to black, I pull up the blinders and look out the window. Gosh, the sun burns. Maybe living as a recluse for so long turned me into a vampire. I won't say I'll sparkle anytime soon because that's just plain stupid.
Geez, from this height, all these people look like ants. Wish I could stomp on them... When did I start hating people this much? Maybe you could say I merely dislike them but honestly, I don't really know.
My stomach growls, begging me to put some food in it for it to digest. This isn't the first time I forgot to eat.
I stand up from my wheeled chair and leave that clean room I always lock myself in. To be honest, it's just clean because I don't have much clothes or knick-knacks to mess it up. There's only one pair of jeans I ever wear which is actually convenient because I tend to leave money in my pockets and when I need some cash, they're always there.
After leaving that strangely clean room, I turn to face a stove, a counter, a sink and a refrigerator. Or to put it short, the kitchen.
There are only two things magnetized to the fridge. One piece of paper and one photo. Leaving them on the only place I store my food... I wonder if I forget to eat because I'm just forgetful or is it just to avoid looking at these things? I'm such a masochist...
That piece of paper is my diploma. It was just a year ago that I was studying medicine at the college where I met her. It was my first step to achieving my dream of becoming a doctor. Now, I don't even walk by that place. My first step to my dream is now hanging on my fridge, laughing at me mockingly. What a jerk. And yet I allow it to continue doing so.
As for the photo... It's a picture of a couple. The boy has neatly kept black hair and looked rather good despite the slight nerdy vibes. The girl... She's drop dead gorgeous. Silky blonde hair (dyed), a beautiful supermodel face (buttloads of makeup), a cute little nose (plastic surgery?) and a 5/5 figure (also plastic surgery?).
You know that one saying? 'Every rose has its thorns'? Roses don't have thorns. They have prickles. But the saying is true, and I learned it the hard way. I picked a rose and ended up bleeding.
To be honest, I don't want to elaborate anymore on this. I don't even want to remember her name. But that boy in the photo... Poor guy. I wish he found out sooner. If he did, he wouldn't have drowned in depression and locked himself away from the world in his apartment room until his college gave him the boot. Now, the poor idiot leeches off his parents' money and is neither studying nor working. The last conversation he had was a flame war over the internet, and that was months ago.
That smiling guy who has his arms around the shoulders of that pretty girl... That's not me. This lonely idiotic hermit? That's me. Put us next to each other and you'd think that there's no way we're related in the slightest. Well... We are. That smiling idiot was me.
A piece of paper to represent my broken dreams and a single photo to represent my broken heart.
I'm such a masochistic idiot.
I open the fridge, carefully making sure to avoid physical contact with my broken dreams and my broken heart.
Right beside the door is the egg tray and...
There is only one egg left. The minimum egg count per omelette is two.
No human being should be allowed to consume only one egg for breakfast! That's just as bad as Hitler gassing the Jews! This brings me to ask why I only have one egg left. I buy my eggs in dozens.
Staring right at me on the tray of the fridge are two halves of an egg shell. The egg white and the yolk are frozen. I feel sick.
Snow. How irritating.
I put a foot through the snow. It isn't too deep, that's good. I am wearing a thick coat with a red scarf, my legwear being my trusty jeans. The cold breeze is sending chills down my spine. Or is it the fact that I have to escape the comfort of my room? Either way, I don't want to go out. There are people there.
For my breakfast. For my omelette. For my eggs. I'll do anything. The clerk of the nearby convenience store knows how to shut up, hence why I purchase my daily needs there.
I close my eyes with a sigh and walk through the white streets. This is going to be quick, just bear with it. The streets are quite empty, everyone's at work by now.
"Ouch!" A high-pitch girly voice squeaks from... Below me?
I take another step forward, noting how the terrain I was on does not feel like snow at all.
"Ouch!" That same voice squeaks again.
I look down and see a brunette. I'm walking on her. Which begs the question, what is she doing in the snow? Naptime?
I step away from the girl and hope that I didn't kill her by stepping on her. "Are you okay? What are you doing lying down on the snow?"
The girl sits up and looks at me with her emerald eyes. "Oh..." She had a breathy voice. "I... Fainted."
I want to walk away. I should just walk away. This random girl sleeping in snow has absolutely nothing to do with me. "Are you ill? Do you need me to call an ambulance?"
Curse you Dulcinea Effect.
"N-No..." She stands up, shaking. "Achoo!" Why if that isn't the cutest sneeze I've ever heard...
I stare at her and note how she is wearing a plain white dress. It looks like it's made of silk. And in this weather, that's asking for a cold. She has a rather petite body, I want to say she's a high school student who's trying to get a day off, but my gut tells me that isn't the case.
"Do you need something? Like a cup of hot chocolate? I'll pay." Why am I saying all this when it's contradicting my thoughts?
"Really?" She looks at me with a look of awe. "Thank you, but I can't." Her pale body starts shivering as she sneezes. And then, we hear her stomach grumble.
I scowl as I look at that face of hers which is ready to break down to laughter.
"So what were you doing sleeping on the snow?"
I brought her to a nearby cafe and ordered her a cup of hot chocolate and a cappuccino for myself. I also ordered some sandwiches and they're being heated up. Right now, the girl's sitting down in front of me, sipping onto her hot chocolate like it is the best thing since sliced bread.
She put the mug down with a satisfied breath. "I said, I fainted. I haven't even eaten anything yet."
"Riiiight." I reply with a sarcastic tone.
"Your sandwiches." The waiter put a tray on our table. On it are two plates of rather crisp looking sandwiches. "Enjoy."
I hold one of them in my hands as I prepare to take a bite out of it. My stomach is roaring. It wants it. It wants it bad.
"It tastes amazing!" That freeloader of a girl had already finished hers as I stare at mine. "Thank you so much for the treat! Uh..."
"What?" My voice is muffled as I try to talk while chewing.
"You never gave me your name." She tilts her head.
"You never gave me yours either." I reply with a harsh tone.
"Kie Amarante." She answers very quickly. "You?"
"Yusei Susumu." I answer back as I get through a quarter of the sandwich.
"So, thank you for the meal!" She says with a smile.
Idiot, you should never take free food from strangers.
"Yeah, you're welcome." I reply. "Just don't pass out on the snow again."
She slams the table as she stands up dramatically. "Let's go out on a date!"
"Are you kidding?" I chastise her dumb idea. "We just met. I just found out your name five seconds ago. And now you want to go out on a date?"
"Yes." She has a serious look on her face. "I mean, I don't get the chance to go out much so I thought it would be fun if I could go out with someone, just this once. It's my first date. Please?"
What an idiot.
"I just wanted to buy myself a tray of eggs." I say with a sigh. "You should just go home. Your parents must be worried sick."
"They're not." She shakes her head. "Come on, go out with me, it'll be fun! I want to try out so many things! Bungee jumping... Snowball wars... Gun fights... Deer hunting..."
"None of them sound right for you." I quickly state.
"But I want to try them out anyway!" She gives me those pitiful puppy eyes. "It's my only chance, and I want to do it with somebody."
What is on my timetable right now? Right, I don't have anything to do honestly. Maybe some PvP battles online but that's a waste of time. It got repetitive. The choice really boils down to go out with some girl you stepped on or spend another whole day in front of the computer screen.
"Okay, just this once and then we don't meet ever again." I guess I know what I chose. Chicks over random basement dwellers.
"Fine by me!" She grabs me by the arm and drags me out of that overpriced drinks cafe and into the snowy town. "Ah! C-Cold!"
"Why did you even decide to go out wearing such a thin dress?" I ask with a hint of curiosity as I take my hand back.
"Oh... That... Uhm... Haha..." She bites her lower lip, as if to conceal the answer.
"Nevermind, I don't care." I untie the scarf I was wearing and roll it into a ball. "Catch." I toss the scarf directly at her face.
"Ow!" She flinches as she catches the scarf. "... Thanks." She then ties the scarf around her neck, hoping to keep warm in the cold weather.
"Excuse me sir." I hear a meek man's voice approach from behind him.
"What?" I ask as I turn to face him.
"Please take this." He hands me two cards. "One donation can save a life."
The meek man then walks past us so he can search for more people to hand that card to. I pass one to Kie and read the one on my hand aloud.
"Organ donation?" I raise an eyebrow. "I'm not dumb enough to do something like that."
"I thought so." She has a wry smile on her face. "A lot of people treasure their health and lives so it's only natural to want to keep it."
"Yeah yeah." I stuff the card into my pocket. "Only an idiot would throw his life away like that."
"So shall we go?" She asks me. "I think I want to check out the mall but that's so normal. I want to go somewhere abnormal. Unexpected. Interesting..."
"As long as it doesn't involve me chucking large sums of money, I think I'll be fine with that scenario." I sigh and let out an icy breath of air.
"There you are!" A mature woman's voice shouts at us.
"Oh no!" Kie gets ready to beat it.
Just as her legs begin to run, I grab her by the shoulder. "Hold it, what's going on?"
"Kie!" The woman's voice gets louder as she nears us. "Why did you leave your ward? Don't you know it's dangerous?"
"Ward?" I turn around to see a nurse. She looks furious. Mind you, she doesn't look absolutely gorgeous like TV nurses usually are. She looks just plain. "Don't tell me-"
"Ah... I haven't even got started...!" Kie pouts with disappointment.
"I'm really sorry I didn't tell you sooner."
The smell of medicine lingers in the air, the quietness of the cold white room. It is solemn. Calming. Unlike my apartment where the sound of roaring motors plagues me 24/7, this place feels like heaven. It has to feel like it. It's a hospital.
Kie forced me to follow her, telling that plain nurse that I'm her 'friend'. The only time I use that silly term nowadays is online, and that doesn't necessarily mean I even know them. 'Friend' is more akin to 'acquaintance' nowadays.
"So you collapsed in the snow because you contracted some sort of illness?" I ask as I make myself comfortable on the stool beside her bed.
She nods. "I was born with arrhythmia." She then places her hand on her chest. "My heartbeat is constantly off. Sometimes I get a random stroke and faint. Someday, this heart of mine will just stop and I'll die. I don't know when that will happen. It could be today, tomorrow, next week..." She smiles wryly. "I've never left these walls. Not once."
"Is that why you wanted to try out all those things with me?" I look into her emerald eyes.
She broods. "I always see so many things on the TV up there." She points at a television that was hung against the corner of a wall across the room. "There're so many things I want to do...!" She clutches the hand she placed on her chest. "But with this heart of mine, even walking is a chore."
"You shouldn't push yourself so much." I try to advise her, though I really think I'm the worst person who should be allowed to do so.
"I know, I know." She stretches her arms out and lets them rest on the blanket covering her knees. "But being locked in a room for so long... Don't you think that's so boring? All I ever do is sleep, eat and watch TV. I'm sick and tired of it."
... Oh the irony.
"It's no use to be entertained if you're dead." That sentence could've been worded nicer, but I wasn't thinking when I said it.
"I just want to achieve my dreams." She smiled as she looks up at the ceiling, placing her hands beside her hips. "Before I die, I want to bungee jump off a bridge, throw a snowball at someone, watch a mafia war first hand and shoot a deer with a rifle and..." Her cheeks turn red.
I don't want to know what the last one is, seeing how violent the last two were. But... "And?" Curse you Bile Fascination.
She takes a deep breath. "Get married..." Her voice is incredibly soft.
"That sounds easier than the others, considering your condition." I can understand her embarrassment. Saying something like that to a guy should be tough on a girl, but what do I know?
"I don't think so actually." She pulled her blanket up to her waist. "I don't want to be the kind of wife who stays at home and does absolutely nothing. I want to be helpful, to do something." She rolls her eyes away from me. "And then there's that problem of finding a guy who would want to marry me in the first place while being stuck on this bed."
I'll marry you!
Hah! Thought I'd say that did you?
"You'll find someone someday." I try to reassure her.
"Yeah, but that 'someday' scares me." She clasps her hands. "I could die anytime. Someday I'll meet him... But who's to say that my heart won't give in before that? Maybe even when I meet him?" Her clasp grows stronger. "I'm scared because I don't know. I don't know when I'll die."
"No one knows when they die." I respond.
"But it's different for me." A tear rolls down her cheek. "I'm a ticking time bomb. It could happen anytime and I wouldn't have achieved anything in my life if I keep going at this pace. I've never been to school before, I've never made a friend, I've never graduated from anything... I've never done anything meaningful!"
I want to say something. I have to say something. But I can't think of any words. All the sentences my mind is structuring feel like they'll only deepen this wound of hers. If I stood up and left, that just shows how big a jerk I am. So to say, I'm trapped. I can try playing dead, but I'm not up against a bear. I'm such an idiot.
"Kie!" The door to the ward bursts open and a woman wearing a suit runs in. "Why did you sneak away? It would be so dangerous if you fainted out there with no one to contact an ambulance!"
It looks like an argument's about to begin. A smart move would be to escape the ward with stealth.
Kie doesn't even look at the girl, let alone respond to her.
"Ah, did you look after her?" The woman asks me. She looks a little old, probably ten years older than me? I'm assuming that she's Kie's mother. "Thank you so much. Kie can make some irrational decisions sometimes, but she's a good girl, trust me on that."
"Irrational?" Kie gasps. "What do you mean by that?"
"Going out without any means of contact whatsoever!" The woman turns to her angrily.
I slowly step away from them as I reach toward the door. Quietly, I leave the two of them to bicker at one another.
Wait. Yusei. What are you doing? Don't be an idiot. Stop.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" The bearded doctor in front of me asks.
"Yes." I reply.
"If you insist." The nametag on his coat reads 'Dr. Yoshiteru'. "Wait here for the moment, we'll come back with the results."
He then leaves with the paper I signed previously, leaving me alone in the lobby. I sit down on the bench against the wall and let out a sigh. I'm such an idiot. Why you ask? I just signed up for something I said only an idiot would do.
Why am I prepared to this? I don't even know much about Kie. I want to say it was love at first sight, but I don't believe in that. I don't believe in it at all.
It's because I feel like she deserves life better.
She has been trapped in that ward since she was born, never to see the world outside. She's never been to school, never made a friend and so on. She was perfectly willing to sneak out alone just to take a first step to achieving her goal, how small it may be.
I've had the chance to go out, and I've taken it and have seen all sorts of place. I've been to school, I've made a lot of friends and so on. But now... I don't even want to go out at all and I've completely given up on my hopes and dreams, though I had already taken the first step.
Given those comparisons, it's pretty obvious who deserves to live more.
I hate myself and I hate the direction my life's going. At the rate I'm going, I'll end up being a hobo and then die in the snowy streets. That's a fact, not a prediction.
I'm waiting to die. I never had the courage to end it all. I was just an inch away from the noose once upon a time but I didn't have enough guts to go through with it. So, this... I consider this a sacrificial suicide. I'm going to save a life in exchange for mine.
I can feel my heart beating. This man here doesn't deserve these systematic heartbeats. That girl in the ward deserves them more.
I'm not giving her my heart because I love her. I'm giving it to her because I'm sick and tired of everything.
Yeah... That's definitely why. No doubt about it. I'm going to do something meaningful with my life as my dying blaze of glory.
The clock ticks on. I watch every second tick until it has made sixty full rounds. The doctor finally comes back with the results in his hand.
"So?" I stand up with anticipation.
"Yusei..." The doctor gives me a melancholic look. "Your heart isn't compatible with Kie's."
How long have I been sitting in this lobby? Visiting hours are almost over. I want to go home and just end the day but my body won't let me. I need to see Kie one more time.
A bouquet of flowers rests against my hand. It's my apology. My apology for being useless.
The elevator doors slide open. This is the fifty-something one. I lost count.
I can't go home till I visit her one last time. Why I devote my time to her despite knowing her for such a short time is anyone's guess. I have to just give her these flowers, apologize and then go home.
The doors start to slide close as the people waiting in front of it have already entered. If I don't get in, the number of elevators I purposely missed could go on to a hundred.
I'm a coward.
I'm scared to see what she'd say when I apologize. Will she call me useless? Will she scream at me? Will she hate me? Will she shoot me? Will she smash me with a hammer? I don't know. And I'm scared to know.
But this is not getting me anywhere.
I stand up and put my hand on the gap between the elevator doors. The sensors detect it and stop before the doors crush my hand. The doors then slide open as I get in.
I step into her ward. Kie is still lying down on the bed, staring out the window. The girl in the suit had already left in those hours I spent sitting down.
"Yusei...!" She seems surprised as she sees me. "What are you doing here? I thought you already went home."
"I didn't." I place the bouquet of flowers on top of her lap which is covered by the blanket. "Do you like it? They're daffodils... I think."
She takes the bouquet by the wrap and stares at the flowers. "No, these are orchids. And they're not even real." She smiles as she puts the bouquet down on the drawer beside her bed. "Thanks for the flowers. This would be the very first gift I received from a boy." She chuckles.
"I'm sorry." I quickly say.
"Huh?" As expected, she gets confused as she hears that. "What for?"
"I signed up for organ donation so you can get a heart transplant." I bite my lip. "But my heart isn't compatible for you. And I want you to know how sorry I am."
"I didn't ask you for your heart." She frowns at me. "And didn't you say that only an idiot would donate their organs?"
"I am an idiot." I rebut. "I just wanted to help you the best way I can."
"But that's just throwing your life away." She seems very upset with me.
I breathe out. "I lock myself in my apartment day in, day out, leeching off my parents' money. I've dropped out of college and I don't even have a job. You see, I don't have a life."
"Even if that's true, I'm the last person you should want to give your life to." She looks away from me with a sad face. "I'm just a no good parasite. I know my mother wants to get rid of me. I just know it. I'm no better than a burden. Saving my life would be the dumbest thing anyone can do."
I shake my head. "I've done dumber things in the past." I step away and lean against a wall. "I've never done anything meaningful with my life, even though I could. So, just this once... I want to do something meaningful for someone. I want to help you do all those things you wanted to do."
"Why me?" She shot a leer at me. "There are millions of people in this world you can help so why did you choose me?"
"Do I seriously need a reason to?" I leer back at her. "I chose you because I did. There's not much thought in it!" I let out a sigh. "Look, let's not argue on this. My heart isn't going to work for you so there's no point. If I can't give you my heart, there's nothing I can do."
Her cheeks turn red again as I said that last sentence.
That was when it hit me.
Wait, what am I thinking? No way, no way. You don't know anything about this girl! She could be half your age for all you know! A total jailbait!
I near her with a smile. "There is one thing I can do however. You said you wanted to get married right? Well..." I slam my hands on her bed dramatically. "Will you marry me?!"
Dammit man. I'm such an idiot.
She gulps. "W-What?" Her shoulders are shaking. "You don't want to marry me... I can't cook, I can't clean... I can't do anything. I'm completely useless. You'll end up having to look after me all the time..."
"Does it matter?" I hold her hand. "If it'll grant you happiness before you pass on, then I'm completely fine with that!"
"You don't have to force yourself to love me..." She looks away from me. "Find someone you truly love. Someone you'll want to spend your days with till you grow old and die. Not some girl whose wish you want to grant."
"I love you!" I shout.
Aww crap. Why can't I stop myself? I'm digging myself so deep. This is the most embarrassing thing I've ever done.
"You don't even know anything about me!" She's trying to push me away but I know without a doubt that she's testing me.
"That's why." My face is getting closer to hers. "I want to know more about you. What makes you happy. What makes you sad. Everything. I couldn't care less about anyone else but just because I can care about you, I know I love you."
"Yusei..." Her eyes are tearing up as a smile emerged on her face.
I close my eyes and hold her chin delicately. Our faces are getting closer... Our lips are about to make contact.
But just as that was about to happen, she pushes me away from her. I open my eyes and notice how she looks like she is in pain. Her hand is clutching her chest.
"Kie?" I start to feel worried. "What's going on?"
She covers her mouth and lets out a loud cough. She takes her hand away from her mouth and stares at it.
There is blood dripping down her mouth. Her expression is a mix of shock, fear and sadness. She knows it. Her time has come.
"Yusei..."She turns to face me with a smile and a tear.
"Kie!" I shout as I hold her in my arms. I can feel a tear in my eye and I'm choking up. "Please don't tell me that-"
She put a finger on my lips. "You've done enough. You made me happy like you said you wanted to. So..." Her breath is starting to run out. "Thank..." Her pupils are beginning to lose focus. "You..."
"No...!" I press my ear against her chest. I hear nothing. I feel nothing. "Please...! Just one more beat...!"
Nothing responds to my pleading.
"One more beat...!"
Click click click...
Click click click...
Click click click...
I lean back with a scowl and glance to my right at that trophy.
'Exemplary Student Of The Year: Yusei Susumu'. What arrogance.
I stand up from the wheeled chair of mine and get out of my strangely clean room. As I close the door, I look at my fridge.
There is nothing on it.
I had put away the diploma in a file and as for the photo... I burned it. I managed to get back to a college recently so it would be a bad idea to burn that diploma as it would come in handy soon enough.
But that photo...
That photo proved that I still wasn't over her. It proved I wanted her back. It proved that I'm an idiot who couldn't get over the past. So burning it proved that I was over her, that I didn't want her back and that I'm not an idiot who couldn't get over the past. I felt satisfied as I watched it burn.
I turn to look at the coffee table in front of my TV. On it, a bouquet of flowers lay on a neatly folded red scarf. They were both things I had given and lent to Kie.
Keeping them like this... I want to say that I'm a masochistic idiot.
But I'm not.
Looking at these things... It makes me want to smile and cry at the same time. I'm grateful actually. My only regret is that I wasn't able to show it. But I know that she knows it. Someday, I want to say thank you to her.
I take steps forward to the door.
It's thanks to her I figured out how I want to make my life meaningful. What is a meaningful life anyway? That differs between people really. For me... A meaningful life is one where I can be grateful to everyone as they are to me. That's just me. You'll have to figure out your 'meaningful life' yourself.
Well, I didn't figure it out myself actually.
I wanted to become a doctor. Why? So I can roll in the dough. I'm still trying to become one, but it's now for a different reason. To save lives. I want to save people like Kie. I want to give them a second chance. I've given up on the first step once before, but now I'm climbing these stairs again.
It could take years. It could take decades. But I know that I'll make it to the top some day.
Goodness. I'm such an naive idiot.