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It’s impossible to tell when you’ve woken up. But I get the feeling I haven’t been conscious for very long. My eyes are closed but my senses are telling me I’m in a poorly lit room. I’ve had a nice nap so I think I’m going to—
“Easy. Don’t try to get up too fast. That was quite a bump to the head you got.”
A female voice. I knew someone was in the room with me from the moment realised I was awake. I was too drowsy to acknowledge the fact. I wonder if she’ll get me some—
“Try not to talk so much. Just relax.”
Curses. She keeps countering me.
“You gave me a scare. For a moment I thought something had happened to you too.”
I’m trying not to speak, but it’s getting more and more difficult to restrain myself. What does she keep referring to? And who is she anyway? I finally decide to open my eyes.
“How are you feeling?”
I do a double take. Even in the dim light I can tell it’s Aya. She looks as cute as ever. Big blue eyes, dyed pink hair, good complexion. She’s too perfect. I’m disturbed by her as always.
“Don’t talk, just nod or shake.”
I feel like I was hit with a double decker bus, but I nod my head.
“Good! Do you think you could stomach some tea?”
I nod again. She reaches to her left and picks up a small tea cup. I take in my surroundings as she hands me the hot beverage. I don’t recognize this house, but it’s obvious I’m in a living room. Very plain, but with a fireplace to make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Christmas movie. Seriously, it looks like a movie set.
I sip the tea. The same sickeningly sweet concoction I remember. How much sugar does this girl use?
“Is it good?” she asks.
I nonverbally lie (i.e. nod) and sip the sugar-saturated tea.
I become aware of the fact that I’m lying on a couch. It’s an underwhelming realization, but it quickly becomes irrelevant when I realise she’s on the couch with me.
Another double take. My throat is numb, I have a headache, and I think I’m going to vomit from this tea. I hope she doesn’t expect me to drink all of this.
She looks at me expectantly.
I should probably finish the tea.
Aya, while disturbing, is a sweet girl who means well. I don’t want to disappoint her. At least she took the liberty to put a blanket over me. I drain the cup of the damned liquid and set it down on the coffee table to my right (her left).
“You can talk if you want to.”
I want to ask so many things. Like, what the hell am I doing here?
“Thanks for the tea.”
Damn. Eddie is probably laughing at me.
“Thank you. I was holding back on the sugar since I know you don’t like too much.”
This girl. I swear to God...
“So, what am I doing here?”
“It’s complicated, maybe you should wait until you’ve rested.”
Typical. She’s so polite. But it seems like she’s avoiding the subject.
I know her well enough to realise I can’t argue with her. Maybe I’ll be able to remember on my own. We’ve been, well, I guess you could say friends for some time now. It’s always been a strange relationship. We’ve had arguments before, usually about her over-reliance on me. In truth, I’ve won most of the arguments. I think it’s because she lets me win. Most of the time at least. Our last one, our last big one, she actually managed to out-think me. She used some good points which I couldn’t counter, and I’ll admit, I’d been unfair to the girl.
She is a sweet girl, who gives off this aura which causes the beholder an inexplicable urge to protect her. “The Big Brother Instinct,” in its purest form.
So, she’s finally using my "special name."
“Yes?” I answer, knowing from the tone of her voice the subject on which she has chosen to converse.
“I was thinking...” she continues. “About us.”
Son of a—
“What do you mean?” I ask, knowing full well what she means.
“You don’t know?” She asks, confused at my question. “I was talking about, well, we’ve been friends for so long, I think we have connection.”
We do have a connection. Just not the way she sees it. Admittedly, she is one the best friends I’ve ever had.
“Yes...” I say carefully. “Yes, we certainly have a connection.”
“I was just wondering, maybe... maybe we could go out sometime?”
So direct? What’s going on here.
Aya always seemed to have a thing for me. When we met a couple of years ago, she basically latched herself onto my arm. She was in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. He was a bastard in every sense of the word except for, perhaps, the original meaning, and seemed to keep her around for no other reason then to yell at her. I suppose she needed someone to really care about her for who she was, unlike that monster.
Anyway, I met her in a café, and we struck up a conversation. She was going to be a transfer student at Pangæa Middle School, which happened to be my hometown. Despite our age difference (myself being a confidential number of years her senior), we struck up a bizarre, yet pleasant friendship along with her two friends, Rika and Yuki.
That's right! Her two friends were with me right before this.
“Aya? Where are Rika and Yuki?”
Aya looks embarrassed and confused at my not answering her confession.
“What do you mean?” she asks.
“They were with me before I woke up here. Why aren’t they here now?”
“I’ll get some more tea.”
She didn’t even answer incorrectly. She just up and went to get some more of that God forsaken beverage. Maybe I should have given an answer instead of prying further.
Without getting up, I look around the room again for any sign of Yuki or Rika. Nothing weird except a cross above the mantle piece. I swear, in the unlikely event God exists I have a lot of questions to ask him. Namely, why didn’t he give a model sentient being such as myself the ability to read the thoughts of others. Then I remind myself why I’m the only guy I know who has an elaborate plan to take God down.
Maybe I’m being arrogant. Or as Howie would say, “Psychologically enlightened.”
He wasn’t immune to love, however, and neither was I. When I say that, I mean I couldn’t stop people from falling in love with me. Rika was actually quite vocal on the subject. It was, I think, she who confessed her feelings to me on the bus one day. None of the others were around, giving her the opportunity to speak her mind.
I turned her down, the poor girl. She was cold with me for a while before finally returning to how it was before her confession. I think Yuki might also have liked me, but she was always the quiet one... Aha!
That’s right, we were at a bus stop! Rika, Yuki, Aya and myself. But what am I doing here now?
“I’ve got some more tea,” Aya says sweetly, breaking my concentration.
“Aya,” I say. “Did something happen to Rika and Yuki?”
Aya looks surprised.
“Why do you ask?”
“Because I remember we were with them, and now they aren’t here. It seems strange that they wouldn’t.”
“They’re not important,” she says this with such a cold tone, it takes me by surprise.
“Excuse me?” I say.
“All that matters is that you’re here.”
“I don’t think that’s true,” I say, blocking her move. “When I first came to, you said, ‘I was worried something had happened to you too.’ Were you talking about how something happened to all of us, but only I made it out?”
“Onee Chan,” she says, using my nickname again. “All that matters is that you’re here. The others were just distractions.”
“Aya, give me an answer!”
“Will you go out with Aya? Yes or no?”
“Don't avoid my question!”
I’m caught off guard by this sudden outburst. The tea cup falls out of her trembling hands and smashes against the table, staining the wall-to-wall carpet.
“Onee Chan,” she says, abandoning her threatening volume and continuing to use her childish nickname for me. “The others were trying to stop us from being together.”
“Don’t call me that,” I say on a whim. “What are you talking about? They’re our friends!”
“Real friends don’t betray real friends,” she says in monotone, almost to herself. “They wanted to separate Aya and Onee Chan.”
She’s referring to herself in the third person? That’s not a good sign. In Japan, referring to yourself in the third person is considered youthful, and therefore cute. Aya did it constantly when I first met her. I thought nothing of it at the time, but later on, I realised it might be her way of dealing with the trauma of her previous relationship. Digressing into a more childlike state to gain sympathy almost subconsciously is not unheard of. She stopped doing it for the most part after a few weeks of knowing her, but would sometimes, probably unintentionally, do it when having an argument.
“No, they were not betraying you, or me, or anyone,” I say, firmly. “What did you do?!”
“It doesn’t matter, Onee Chan.” her voice is quiet, but it sounds like there’s something right below the surface, waiting to burst out. “Aya loves Onee Chan, and now they can always be together.”
I finally get up from the couch, my legs shaking almost as if it’s been days since I used them.
“I’m not going to ask again,” she says. “Will you go out with me?”
“I’m leaving!” I say, heading for the hallway, where I can see the front door.
“No, wait!” She looks at me imploringly. “Don’t go! You’re still not rested enough!”
I keep walking. I reach the door and, stupidly ignoring a crusty film coating what should be a smooth surface, try to turn the knob. It won’t budge. I look at it closely and see it’s locked. No problem, I’ll just unlock it. Except it won’t unlock. I take my hand off and see something that resembles rust on it. My eyes widen as I realise what’s really on my hand.
“Open this door,” I demand. Aya is still standing in the living room looking at her feet.
“You can’t go,” she whispers. “Aya made some more tea, just for you. Aya even made the attic into a guest room. You won’t go. You have to stay and see what she’s done for you... I’ll make you stay...”
I take a step forward. “What the hell did you do?!”
“They deserved it!” she screams. “They were trying to seduce Onee Chan, and Aya saved him!”
Before I can react, she rushes forward, knocking me off my feet and pushing me to the floor. My survival instinct kicks in right away, and I look around desperately to find something I could use to defend myself.
Aya is standing above me before I can even try to get up. I could probably look up her skirt if I want to, but I maintain eye contact. I’ve never seen such anger in her eyes before. But behind the malice, I can see something else. Fear. Confusion, childlike, even.
“Aya. What happened to you?” I ask, mostly to myself as she picks up a hat-stand and raises it.
She strikes me over my head, and memories come flooding back.
Rika, Yuki, Aya, and of course myself are standing at the bus stop near my house waiting for a red light so we can cross. It’s after rush hour. The ground is shiny from the recent rain, but the sun is out now. Aya is standing directly behind the other two. A car is whizzing at full speed down the road. We know we shouldn’t cross until it’s passed us.
Aya, almost absent-mindedly puts her hands on the Rika’s back.
“Aya, what are you?"
In a surprising burst of strength on Aya’s part, the other girl is pushed into the road.
Time seems to slow down as I assess the situation. Rika is in the road in front of a speeding car, only about six feet away. I think I can save her if I’m fast enough so I rush onto the street to try and push her out of the way. Rika is hit before I’m even on the street. The car seems to shatter every bone in her body the moment the two of them make contact. She looks at me with a mildly surprised expression, tears in her eyes. Her last moments of life slip away, and she falls underneath the car.
I’ve only made it about halfway to her, but I’m still in the path of the car, which, despite slowing down from hitting Rika, is still moving. I try to turn, but it hits me in the side, sending me flying through the air, and knocking me against the asphalt.
I don’t feel any broken bones, but my breath has been knocked out of me, and I’m hurting like crazy. The car that killed Rika speeds around the corner. The bastard. Probably won’t tell anyone about this.
Rika is lying in the middle of the road, a pool of blood spreading around the twisted body. Her blank eyes are still looking at me.
“What did you do?!” I hear Yuki scream. “What the hell did you do?!”
“She was just like the rest of them, trying to take Aya’s Onee Chan away.” Aya responds blankly.
I muster enough strength to turn myself over to see Yuki running to Rika’s side.
“Rika... oh my God...”
She grabs Rika’s body by the shoulders and drags her to the sidewalk. Aya just looks at the scene vacantly.
Having put Rika’s body in a safe place for the time being, Yuki runs back into the road to my side.
“Huey, are you alright?” she whispers. Her voice is audibly breaking.
I cough in response.
She starts to help me to my feet.
“Don’t worry. I’m going to call an ambulance.”
I’m vertical now. I can see Aya shifting from foot to foot, looking uneasy.
Yuki looks at me; behind her glasses I can see that her eyes are very moist.
“I think Rika’s dead. Aya killed her.”
With those final sounding words, she wraps her arms around me, trying to let the pain and emotion out. I try my best to return the favor, but I still can’t say much without coughing, on account of having the wind knocked out of me.
“It’s okay,” I manage to wheeze. “I’ll make sure you’ll be al—”
I see Aya. Her face is lit up with the most unspeakable hatred.
“Aya knew it,” she whispers. “Aya knew it! She knew you were just like all the others. Trying to take her Onee Chan! I’ll kill you. I’ll kill you!”
Aya advances swiftly. Yuki puts her own body in between Aya and myself. Aya, or rather, the girl who used to be Aya, strikes her fist across Yuki’s face. The blow causes her glasses to fly off and break on the pavement. A second punch knocks her to the ground.
“You only wanted Onee Chan for yourself!” she screams, pushing me aside. “You didn’t care about his happiness, or mine! You deserve to die!”
Yuki is on all fours, struggling to get out of the road. Aya, almost casually, walks over to the girl. She lifts Yuki by her short hair, causing her to scream in pain. She then tosses her into the curb.
“... Huey...” Yuki whimpers. “... Help...”
She’s gone too far. I never wanted any of this to happen. Rika was a good person. She really did love me. I’m not going to let Aya do the same thing to Yuki.
“Get off her!”
Aya spins around with her eyes full of rage and malice. She clasps her hands around my neck and begins to squeeze. I try to pry her hands off, but her adrenalin seems to give her the strength to keep her grip. I manage to choke out a weak “... run...” to Yuki, but Aya slams me against the ground. I hit my head, and the world starts spinning. I feel like throwing up, but I hold it in.
“Don't you try to crawl away!”
I can barely move, but my position gives me a partial view of what’s happening.
Why isn’t anyone helping us?
Aya savagely kicks Yuki in the stomach. Yuki screams and rolls a little to the side. I try to crawl towards them, but every inch of my body protests. I try to ignore the pain, and make it a few inches.
I don’t need to see anything to tell I’m too late.
I’m sorry Yuki.
I can tell I’m tied up. I hate being tied up.
“There isn’t anyone else who’ll keep you from being with Aya.”
You’re a murderer. There isn’t any point in talking to you.
“Aya made them all go away. Aya made sure they’ll never come back.”
I can hear dripping.
“Aya loves Onee Chan very, very much.”
I don’t want to open my eyes. I know what I’ll see.
“And Onee Chan loves Aya too, right?”
Don’t say anything.
“If Onee Chan doesn’t love Aya, she will be very sad. Onee Chan doesn’t want Aya to be sad, does he?”
Don’t say anything.
Don’t say anything.
“Don’t worry. If Onee Chan doesn’t love Aya..."
“I’ll make you love me.”
Written by ShojiAmasawa