She kept her room silent. As silent as herself. Nothing to disturb it, this silence. Quiet inside and quiet outside. All encompassing.
It was always quiet in Her room. It could be the fact that she's created this silence on her own; or that she was silent due to others creating it around her. It was always hard to tell. But one thing could be known for sure... She's always smiling. Ghostly... Hidden... But smiling. Like looking at the painting of the Mona Lisa.
The days drew closer and closer to her release date. The hours... The minutes... And finally... That large door opened behind her. A woman in a white dress, sneakers, and cap looked at her with a smile of her own. It was tired, wary, but happy. Almost coaxing others to slap on the same type of happy as well.
The paint brush in the patient's hand stilled from its brushing, and she turned her head over her shoulder so she could greet her guest.
"Another beautiful painting... the others will miss your art when you check out today." The nurse walked into the room with limbs that seemed to be heavy as iron, her feet scuffed at the floor with just about every step. "Are you ready to leave?"
Nodding, the woman stood up from the stool she'd been sitting on; her hands brush down the back of her royal pants as if to smooth non-existent wrinkles.
"The attendants will get your things to the car for you."
"I can carry them myself." The artist's tone was very light. "Thank you" it was said as an afterthought.
"Alright." The nurse stepped aside; arm sweeping out to gesture the woman on ahead. "I guess this is goodbye then. It was a pleasure knowing you."
Nodding, the patient stepped out the door and into a long white hall. It was like being inside a shockingly white tunnel, the only color contrast being the tan brown from the tack-boards stuck here and there. Schedules were written on dulled white papers; all the things she'd never paid much attention to while staying in the facilities have now caught her eye, as she realized just how many others were here, like herself.
It was sad really. Believing oneself holy enough to judge a persons' functioning ability and give freedom due to that. It stung. Yet it made her smile. It made her realize. But mostly, it just made her smile.
She walked out of the large building. Not a look over her shoulder at the woman who'd come to release her; not a glance at the expression that would change 'good riddance' once she was away from her nurse. No. She doesn't need that expression embedding itself as the face of freedom in the vast recess of her mind.
Suitcase tossed into the back of the car with as much care as one would give an empty box, the woman climbed into the vehicle and peered at her own vacant eyes in the rear-view mirror... Then something changed. They softened. The dark black-blue took on an almost sweet expression, a laughing expression. But her lips... once curved up into a smile... seemed to flat-line as if her eyes had stolen their joy and the two could not coexist. One would have to replace the other. And it left willingly, it would remain gone, until the candle could once again be lit.
Groton, Connecticut. Lafayette Street. April 12th, 2010. Monday morning.
It was 8 a.m. and Yakusoku Land was in history class, absently tapping his ink pen against his desk in order to keep himself alert. He'd had another week of sleepless nights, and it was beginning to take a toll on his mentality. It was like the world decided to play a mean trick on him, thinking it would be funny if it counted down how long a person could go without proper sleep before they cracked. And to tell the truth, he was sure he wasn't going to be fine for much longer. He's already starting to unravel.
Last night... He thought someone was in his room. He'd been staring around while mentally counting sheep, then all of a sudden this large black figure appeared right in front of his closet doors!
The restless teen stared at it, mystified, for what felt like forever; in fact, he stared so long he got a headache. But at least the ache forced him down to sleep, for an hour or so. When he woke up, the dark figure was gone.
Yakusoku's desk jolted forward a bit, snapping him out of a light snooze he didn't even realize he'd been taking. Looking over his shoulder, he smiled and nodded a thanks to one of his best friends, Chester, who'd noticed quickly enough to alert him with a kick to the desk's chair leg before the teacher saw.
The boy gave no response other than raising his brows, chewing on the end of his ink pen. Returning his attention to the teacher, Yakusoku jotted down some notes into his open notepad then drifted back into his tired stupor. And this was only the first class! How was he going to make it through the rest of the day?!
'Maybe I can go to the nurse's office with a fake stomach thing; she'll let me sleep, right?' he knew students who'd done it.
Hearing the bell, the teacher sighed in agitation as though he had been cut off before he could finish his lesson. "Okay, don't forget to write out your homework assignments, it's right there on the board. That means you Steven, I don't wanna hear another session of your not hearing me say it. I've told you this before."
Steven blushed and wrote down his homework assignment in the little blue book that the school has given to the student body on their first day. It came in handy for some. For others it may as well have been toilet paper because they never used it, preferring to forget they had such a thing as homework all together. For Mr. Hensley, Steven was the number one culprit in the class.
"Yes sir," he muttered in mock obedience.
"Thank you," the teacher replied in mock caring for the boy's lack-thereof.
Exiting the room, Yakusoku yawned into his palm, not the least bit surprised to feel an arm slump around his shoulders.
"What's with you?" asked a cheerful tone.
Glancing at his full-blooded American friend, he shakes his head. "I'm beat. I haven't been able to sleep all week. It's like someone cast a spell on me, ya know?"
"I'm on the baseball team, and we practice practically round the clock after school. I don't know what tired feels like- I pass out- but I do know what it looks like, and you are 'poster child' worthy."
Leave it to the joking male phrase things so eloquently. "Thanks... Do you think they'd let me sleep during lunch? You know, if I skipped and went to the nurse's office?"
"Probably," he shrugged. "I don't see why not."
"Good." He yawned again. "Let the others know I'm not coming."
"Got it." Slapping him on the butt, he released his hold then waved before walking into his next class.
A cute hispanic girl came down the hall. Her pinched lips twisted into a smile. "Hi, Yaku'," the girl greeted, her friendly tone shining through the cruel face genetics gave her for features.
They pass each other going in different directions. The school is labeled for convenience: reading wing, science wing, history, and so on. He and his friends are scattered apart nearly the entire day, having only lunch and gym together. But they don't mind, they're independent people who don't cling to one another like Koalas to their mothers. But they enjoy each others company, and live up any moments they can have together.
"Ah..." Yakusoku voiced his pain, and his fingers came up to his temple to put pressure on the sudden headache that was shattering his already busted little world.
This is the eighth migraine this week. Its gotta be like a record or something. He wondered if he could call the Genis Book or Records about it. Ha. No one would be able to top him. He smiled at how ridiculous it was as he turned into art class. He hadn't wanted to take art classes, but his mother insisted, after he brought home a self-portrait done by simply looking at his reflection in a hand held mirror that the teacher passed to the students. That was in the 4th grade.
She said it would be a waste not to harness the talent. Yakusoku had wondered what he would do with harnessed talent and decided he wasn't interested in becoming a cartoonist or anything like that. He wanted to be a detective, and join a B.A.U when he got out of school. It'd be great to be able to do it part time now, but that wasn't going to happen. He was still in high school after all.
'14 and in the 7th grade. Is there any other place in life less useful then the halfway mark of middle school and college?' He highly doubted it.
Taking a seat, he scrunched his eyes closed trying to bite back the pain throbbing in his head. He hoped that class wouldn't be very active today. At the most draw a stick figure doing something, maybe a toaster with heat lines coming from the open slots on top of it. Anything but still lifes and other assignments he'd have to concentrate on.
A girl took a seat beside him. He could guessed she was new, because it wasn't until a week ago that he started seeing her around school. She was a strange one too; very quiet, very blonde haired and its cut short to her shoulders like a bob. Her eyes were the most notable thing about her, bright... very bright icy blue. It was like looking into a puddle in the arctic.
A few times Yakusoku's wanted to talk to her... but he'd changed his mind at the last second. Other times he'd want to approach her but she'd disappear from where she'd just been standing.
It was probably a sign that he shouldn't bother with trying to make any new friends, and his usual 5 were just enough.
The teacher was sitting in the classroom watching students enter. He was a large man, taking up a good side of his markerboard. His brown hair was cut short like in a crew, and he usually wore black slacks and a white button-down shirts, but today the man seemed to opt for green. It must have been a special occasion.
"Mr. Land, are you alright? You look ill?" He asked when he saw that Yakusoku has his head in his hands in a fashion that seemed like he was trying to block out the light coming down from the fluorescents overhead.
The shy blonde looked over at Yakusoku; her eyes held all the sympathy of the world, and she seemed like she appeared to be pleading with her body to reach out and comfort him. But she held back. It would be weird.
"No. I'm fine, Mr. Lancaster. I've just got a headache." A very nasty headache, he wanted to include.
"Oh, then would you like," the man's words pause as he flexes his lips in odd angles while putting on lip balm; once it was capped he finished his sentence. "to visit the nurse's office?"
"Y- yeah..." his voice cracked as pain split his head worse than before.
'This can't be a normal headache.' Getting up from the desk, he walked carefully to the door, jarred by a few kids walking in.
"Watch it!" One of them called over his shoulder.
"Sorry." Yakusoku muttered as he continued out the door and down the hall.
It was almost frightening how quickly the pain went away the moment he hit the second wing of the school. It was almost like he'd never had the headache at all by the time he'd reached the nurse's office. The chubby woman looked at him with a faint, knowing smile. She presumed that he wanted to get out of class, since he didn't exactly walk into the room like he were on his last breath.
"Hey," he greeted.
"Hello. And what's your ailment, young man?"
"I've been getting these splitting headaches lately, and I had one just now but it went away." Man that sounded lame. But it was the truth. "I was wondering if maybe you could give me an aspirin or something for it?"
The woman shook her head. "I'm afraid I'm not authorized to distribute medicines that haven't been given by parents or guardians." She touched his forehead as if he might have a fever. "Would you instead like to lie down for a while? I know the ache is gone but, you never know."
"Thanks." He answered, then took a seat on a bed behind a dressing curtain. Laying back, he closed his eyes.
He wasn't sure what he was waiting for; his headache was already gone. But he supposed the rest was appreciated since he'd been so tired lately. Letting out a self comforting sigh, he tried to let sleep take over him as he listened to the nurse shuffling through supplies and papers, and moving about the room in general.
He wasn't sure how long he'd lay there, but his eyes sprang open when he caught the sound of a toilet flushing. A little embarrassed, he sat up and stretched his limbs. Getting off the bed, he figured he should go. He'd stalled long enough, and just as he walked around the curtain, the culprit came from the bathroom, only it wasn't the nurse as Yakusoku had expected.
The blonde girl from class blushed fiercely and dipped her head to lower her gaze. Figuring he'd spare her the embarrassment since he spotted a 'girly thing' as Massiel called them Maxi Pad, and knew that she was probably embarrassed enough for the both of them. He isn't sure why, though. Besides Chester, all of his best friends were girls. He knew a thing or two about periods and stuff. No big deal.
"Hi." He said. "Wanna walk back to class with me?"
He was sure she couldn't get any more red.
The girl swayed as she gathered her courage to reply. "S..sure. But art class is over."
"It is? what time is..." He cut himself off, as his wandering gaze located the hand clock on the wall. "Yikes, 10:15 I must have really checked out."
"The teacher gave me your bag when I told him that I was coming here," she pointed.
Turning, he looked over his shoulder to where his bag sits on the floor by the little bed. "Ow," he muttered gripping his temple as his headache returned full swing. His pained eyeball is covered by a winked lid.
Full of concern. the girl asked. "What is it? What's wrong?"
"My head hurts. I keep getting these damned headaches..." He hadn't meant to swear; he doesn't normally, if he can help it. It wasn't that he thought it was wrong or anything, he just knew it sounded weird coming out of his mouth. "Hey, I could still walk to class with you... We have science together, right?"
With the way he's holding back the pain by dipping his head, you'd think he were speaking to the tiled floor, or his sneakers.
But the girl beamed. "I... thank you. Yes, we do have science together."
Yakusoku leaned over to grab his bag, while the girl opened her purse to hide the borrowed items. "Let's go." He called to her walking out of the room.
"I thought you said you weren't coming?" Chester grabbed his friend verbally by the scruff, to pitch him from the lunch table where he'd, earlier, said he wasn't going to be.
They're having lunch in the outdoor cafeteria area.
Yakusoku shrugged. What did he want? Situations change. But he knew Chester was only messing around. Setting his tray on the table, he rubbed his hands together in hungry anticipation. He's been smelling lasagna since Spanish class, which was located right across from the cafeteria.
Smiling he voiced his pleasure with a long, "Mmmm."
"Aaaw, he's in love." Massiel teased. "We didn't think it would ever happen."
He rolled his dual, green and blue, colored eyes. Massiel was always like that, kidding and teasing people. She was the tomboy of the twins. Her sister, Meina, though spelled with an 'a', Maina, instead of an 'a', it's pronounced with the 'e', Meina; she was the sweet and girlish one, almost to a fault.
The joke of them is that their souls went into the wrong body because Massiel had the face of an angelic beauty queen, while Meina had narrow, almost angry eyes. Meina only looked sweet when she smiled... although to be fair, her smile only made her appear more murderous because of the squint in her eyes.
"Don't knock it; love is fleeting, but food is forever." He said in a mock serious tone.
One of his friends, Enid, fidgeted but returned to eating her lunch and listening in on the others.
They spoke of nothing in particular, just this and that about their days as usual. The twins have soccer practice later that day, and Chester had baseball try outs to attend. Chester's girlfriend, Sophie, said she had nothing to do and would walk home with Yakusoku, if he wanted. Yakusoku was glad to accept.
The 5 of them have known each other since forever, and when Yakusoku attended school in the third grade they allowed him into their inner circle. They could tell he was withdrawn, but not shy, so they decided to ease the new kid's tension and be his friend. He thought it wouldn't last, truthfully, but they stuck by him. It was wonderful.
Yakusoku has an usual tale, not because he's adopted; Asian American with a Swedish mother and American father. He figured he's mixed because of his dual eye color of green and blue in their darkest shading. Definitely not an Asian thing...
His story was unusual because he didn't know his parents. All he knew was that he was outside one night and he passed out. When he woke up he was in the car with two people who said they'd drop him off at an orphanage tomorrow, and promised that he'd get a good home; but for the night he stayed with them.
They believed that because he was in such dishevelment, he must be a homeless child who fainted from lack of food. He didn't know himself because he couldn't recall anything from before waking up.
But the family kept their word about dropping him off, and so there he sat... in the system for a year. A year later the couple showed up to adopt a child, and happened to see that he was still hanging around, so they adopted him too.
It was amazing how it worked out, and he was forever grateful. He hated the adoption business. People would come in and scrutinize him. They'd adopt you, and being one of the other kids you think you'll never see that lucky kid again, he's found a home... And then, two... Maybe five months later that "lucky kid" is back.
They never spoke about the reason they'd been returned, they just acted as though they never left. When you put it that way, being adopted seemed terrifying. But at least he got a very lucky break- and a name! He couldn't remember his when they'd picked him up. It was like he had amnesia.
The people at the home said he could call himself whatever he liked, but they absently named him "John" as in John Doe. He hated that name, so boring and sour. He would have taken Elephant for all he cared, but he had a good solid name now, and he loved it. His little brother, on the other hand, didn't appreciate the jokes brought upon by his.
His name was Ai and he was ten, oddly enough Asian American as well. The joke came from the fact that his name sounded like Island when was said with their last name, Land.
Yakusoku's name was a little more hidden, and only his close friends know what it is. The Land's named him with the translation "Promise", a reminder of what they had said about him getting a good home. So you could say that they kept their Promise, and here he is today; 14 years old and enjoying all of life... with a couple of ticks here and there. Such as...
"Hey you guys... Any of you know the name of that girl over there," he nodded in her direction.
The group looked and visibly bristled at the girl seated by one of the large trees, lunch bag on her lap, blonde head dipped as she eats her sandwich.
"That's Maria Atkinson," said Sophie after recovering from her cringe. "We have reading together. She's such a weirdo." She put her fork down to pick up her napkin and wipe her mouth.
"Why is she sitting over there all by herself? She's been here a week; doesn't she have any friends yet?" Yakusoku recalled his own lonesome feelings from when he'd first began school and when he was first taken to the orphanage. He was always a lonely child, wondering what life would do with him until the answer came along. It's how the world worked.
Some people had it and some people didn't. He didn't. He got it, but he didn't start out that way. But then again, he remembered nothing beyond the age of 7, so how was he to know what he was like before then?
"Maybe we should invite her over?" he wondered out loud.
Rolling her eyes, Massiel shook her head. "Gonna go make another promise to care for a wounded animal, are we?"
Those were his name's jokes. That he always made promises to protect and serve the weak. And, in a sense, it was sort of true. He fed stray animals, offered change and bills to those in need, and even brought the stray animals home with him! So he supposed he was looking at this Maria like he would a stray animal. It hurt to think that way, but he got a chance at life. Was is it so wrong to give it to others?
"No," he replied in counter of his own thoughts. "I just wanna push her in the right direction so that she'll be all right."
"Well don't bring that cling-in-a-box over here," the girl chided.
"Massi', that's really rude. Someday you'll be alone somewhere... Wouldn't you want someone to approach you and be nice?"
The girl gave him a scrutinizing look, then smiled. "Yaku' you know how I feel about people... It took me a while to get used to all of you."
He couldn't disagree; and she's still crude! "That's not the point," he started to say but was cut off by Enid who finished his thought.
"Point is, subconsciously... you want someone there."
The group shrugged.
Meina patted Yakusoku's shoulder. "Go ahead, go eat with her." Lowering her hand, she added, "If its the right thing to do for yourself, then it has to be done." She smiled sweetly.
Smiling back, he replied, "Thank you," for her understanding. Getting up from the table, he gathered his tray, and after retrieving his can of Pepsi he walked over to the tree.
"You'll regret it!" Massiel called.
He doubted it, already feeling his heart swell over helping someone in need. Maria looked up with a sad expression that slowly turned into a small smile. He smiled back, then took a seat beside her.
"Hi. Remember me?"
"Yes, you walked me to science."
Yakusoku almost had to slap himself for being so stupid. Of course she remembered him. "My name's Yakusoku Land, what's yours?"
"Maria Atkinson. Nice to meet you."
He could feel his friends' gazes drilling into him from behind, and he scooted himself off to the side a bit to ward off the creeping chill of their disapproval.
"So what are you?" Yakusoku asked.
"Oh.. oh! I didn't mean it like that," he waved it off. "It's just that my whole group- well, except for Chester Flint- is of foreign backgrounds." He turned to point them out. "Enid Aarenstrup is Swedish, Sophie O'Daire is Irish, Massiel and her twin sister Meina Santos are Venezuelan, and I'm Japanese American... so what are you?"
"I'm Canadian, on my mother's side and French on my father's."
"Oh cool. Are you gonna learn French?"
This conversation was going great! He knew he could bring her out of her shell, she might even be shyness-free and making her own friends in no time. With the way Massiel gave him the finger when he'd pointed at her, he was sure his friends would kill if he thought she could hang with them. And then Maria would have no one, yet again.
"No?" he found that weird. "We're all gonna learn our native languages, that way we can speak them to each other." He beamed at their brilliance.
Maria furrowed her brows in thought. "...If you're all learning something different... How do you expect to understand what the other person is saying?"
That wiped the smile off his face, and he frowned with wonder. "...You know what... I hadn't thought of that."
Maria chuckled into her palm. And Yakusoku laughed along with her.
Enid sighed. "He's insane, right? I mean, we all agree to that?"
The others nodded.
"Maybe," Sophie offers, "we should tell him that she's weird, and then he'll forget the whole thing."
Meina shook her head. "That's rude and... we shouldn't judge someone just because they eat lunch alone, and are quiet... all the time. She could be really shy."
Massiel shrugged. "Or she's hate filled and decided to spare the world of her banter of disdain."
Chester laughed loudly at that.
They were like a matched set those two; far more compatible to Massiel than his chess club, priss of a girlfriend, Sophie. They all hated it, regardless. They didn't mind new people. Hell they all had other friends outside of their little circle of 6. But this girl was a freak, and would completely cramp their style. And already, just from by the way she was putting her hair behind her ear, they could tell that she liked Yakusoku and that could only spell trouble for them, and their friend.
He was too intent on saving the world to be into anyone, and Maria was gonna be hugely disappointed when she learned about their friend's little habit of saving wounded birdies.
Instead of a restful sleep, Yakusoku is rolling and is sounding like he's struggling to breathe. Pants, hard and raspy, sputter from his naturally down-turned mouth. It hitched and caught, sped up, and slowed down until finally it stopped.
The tween's once flailing body stilled its movement. Was this it? The end, dead in his sleep? This wasn't the first night his dreams had tried to erase his existence, and it wouldn't be the last.
A painfully loud inhale breaks the silence, joined by sounds of rapid gulps of air, replacing what had been lost. Groaning, the teen wiped cold sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. Breaths calming, he took a moment to glance at the red glowing numbers of his digital clock. 3:17 a.m.
'Just my luck; still too early to be awake and head to school.' Throwing the blanket off, he slipped his feet to the floor, walking across the large bedroom. The carpet softened the sounds of his footsteps. He entered the ensuit bathroom.
Yawning; the teen dropped his pants in front of the toilet and relieved himself into it. Once done, he flushed and then pulled up his pants, heading over to the sink to wash his hands. Looking at his reflection, he was glad that he was not old enough not to have bags under his eyes from all the missed sleep. Catching water in his hands, he rubbed the cool liquid over his face to wash away the cold sweat.
Speaking of 'cold sweat', he walked back into his bedroom and over to the dresser where he pulled out another set of pajamas to slip into. Stripping down; he changed quickly, then climbed into bed. Taking his clothes off always made him a bit uncomfortable- he wasn't sure why. It wasn't as though he'd made a grand show of it or anything, but once he was bare he had to hurry into something- anything- just to cover himself back up! Dressed, he dropped onto the bed and closed his eyes. He'd fall asleep, he was sure of it. He just needed to find a way to relax his busy mind and body.
'Looks like it's gonna be another night of, mental Tetris.' He sighed. 'L shaped blue piece, attached to floor... that green piece I never know what to do with can sit on that...' He smiled at his personal displeasures with the game he loves so much.
He and Ai play it, as well as Dr. Mario, all the time when homework is done and there's nothing on tv. But it wasn't working... it hadn't worked since day one.
'Maybe I could tell my parents about it, and have millions of dollars worth of treatments done on me. Take experimental drugs and get rich from the checks they shell out. Retire at 17 and live my life like an elderly person in hot, sunny, Florida.' Snickering, he figured they'd probably tell him that he's retarded, and he has a violent snore that keeps him awake.
Rolling over, he continued his game, staring at the red lights of the digital clock.
'Maybe I can try masturbation?'
He knows guys who do it- they talk about it all the time. He wasn't sure if he was the type though. Yakusoku was pretty sure that you had to be a type of person to do something like that.
"Well... only one way to find out." He whispered, slipping his hand past the waist band of his pants.
Grabbing a hold of his penis he felt his cheeks heating in embarrassment; this was stupid. Pulling his hand from his pants, he scrunched his eyes closed and once again thought of Tetris. But he grew bored of that- plus, he was cheating himself several board clears during the speed round. Deciding a drink would be best, he sits up. Something warm and comforting, like green tea. His mother bought the kind that specifically reads: Sleepy Time on the box.
Heading downstairs he closed his eyes, mapping out the clear path to the kitchen. Since he was 8 years old he had seen a dark figure roaming about the Land home, several actually, all of them moving about as if they belonged there. He'd once told his foster father, Reeve, but the man had told him it was nonsense. The dark plays tricks with your eyes. Is what Reeve had said. Its called 'matrixing' or something along those lines.
Then he told his son that it was the reason he'd see pictures in the marbled bathroom floor, his eyes were trying to make sense of nothing. For years he's kept his mouth shut, believing that what he'd said was some sort of taboo, and that seeing the U.W.O., Unidentified Walking Orbs, was Wrong. So he'd close his eyes and let them watch him as he moved about the dark home and eventually, yes, they did just go away.
He wasn't afraid of them... But the bigger one made him nervous. It remained stock-still by his mother's studio and only came closer one time when he was 9. He'd come down for a drink, and had dropped his cup, turning around to see the dark figure in the doorway. It vanished quickly, but not quick enough to keep him from feeling a horrible chilling sensation anytime he passed the studio at night.
Quinn Land, his mother, was a designer and sold clothes from the downstairs room of their home. She had legal papers and everything saying that she could. People came from around the neighborhood to look at the clothes. It was like having a department store in their house. She did some men's wear, too!
The closet was enlarged to become three dressing rooms, and she would tailor fit things if asked. His father owned a dealership- three actually- and they lived quite comfortably. But Reeve wanted to keep his family honest, so he didn't spoil them. "Learn the earn of a dollar before you spend money that isn't there." But occasionally, he allowed them splurges.
It was weird sometimes, though, allowing strangers in your house and having to turn them away when your mother wasn't home because, frankly, even though you know how to work the system and dish out the cash... it doesn't mean you wanna be around people you don't know. It's the way of the world.
After the tea bag steeped in the hot water, he blew on it for a second then chugged the mug as though it wasn't the slightest bit hot, only to lower the cup and fan at his scorched tongue. Turning on the faucet he tilted his head and swallowed enough water to cool his taste-buds.
Rinsing the mug, he sets it in the sink then ran the back of his hand over his wet mouth. Turning off the water he headed back to his bedroom, climbing under the covers to allow the effects of the tea to take over.
Yakusoku was just finished brushing his black hair to their usual spikes; Chester once commented on how badly he wanted his hair to spike out like that. Instead, he got stuck with a wavy ball of fluff for a hairstyle and he hates it.
Sophie always touched his hair saying that she loves it. But then girlfriends were like that... at least, he would assume so, because Yakusoku's never had one personally, so referencing couples' behavior off of them made sense in his world.
Dashing downstairs to breakfast, he was disappointed in not smelling his mother's delicious cooking. Instead he saw Ai having a bowl of Apple Jacks at the table. He was about to ask where the Swedish woman was when the sound of the sewing machine caught his attention. She must have had an idea in her head last night, and had to get it out of her system. It happened sometimes. But normally, his mother would never miss a chance to shove homemade meals down into her son's stomachs.
Quinn had a huge heart and would help anyone in any way that she could; she'd even said she planned to adopt again! But for right now, she was madly in love with her two sons and wouldn't do it until they're off at college.
His little brother was given up by his birth mother to the first person to say 'I!', so the Lands are all he knows as parents.
Yakusoku didn't want to know where his parents are. They probably didn't really want him either. After all, look at how he'd ended up at an adoption agency. He was just a boy wandering the streets. If they had so little care for his safety then so be it... they could go away.
"Yaku'? Are you all right? I heard you last night, you sounded distressed," Ai asked.
"It was just a bad dream, nothing major."
He grabbed a bowl and some Corn Pops, then scooped the milk jug from the fridge. After getting himself breakfast, he replaced the milk and sat at the table to eat so he could head to school.
"Oh. Is that all?" The boy suddenly became 10 again rather than 20. "Well don't do it again, I'm too young to have ulcers."
"Yes mother number 2," smiled the semi-scolded.
Ai could be such a worry-wart sometimes. He was always in the kitchen helping cook, always cleaning around the house and picking up after him or reminding him that he had to bring his dirty clothes down when the hamper was full. But Yakusoku wouldn't have him any other way.
His father was already at work; and the sewing machine made soothing sounds in the background while the two ate in a comfortable silence of their own thoughts. And around 7:22 the doorbell rings.
"That would be for me, see ya, Ai- bye mom!"
"Later," The boy was at the sink washing both his bowl and his older brother's.
Loading his backpack as quickly as he could without crushing important papers, he scurried out the door. "Hi, Massi'." He greeted, getting his customary eye-roll in return. She hates formalities of any kind.
"Yeah, where's Meina?"
"She slept over at Sophie's and took the bus. Wanna race?"
They got on their marks.
"On your marks," Massiel said.
Laughing, he replied. "We're already on our marks."
He made a face as if to say... "get on with it"
They tore off down the street towards Howard Scott middle school, with every intention not to stop until they'd gotten there. Although, Yakusoku did daydream about stopping to get a soda in the main part of town from the vending machine at the Food Lion.
But he knew the queen of straight A's and perfect attendance would never allow herself to be tardy for her idiot friend. Passing by a gated area, a big boxer mix trotted up to the fence wondering if he should bark at them or simply growl to mark his territory but by the time he'd managed a lazy 'woof'.
"Hey you two!" Chester greeted darting after them. "You should have seen my old man last night, he really chewed out my mom and just when I think "here comes the divorce talk", they end up screwing each other."
"Euuww!" Yakusoku and Massiel barf in unison.
"Wish I knew his secret." The brunet lamented.
The two racers rolled their eyes to one another.
"Aren't Irish woman supposed to be loose?" Yup. He was in his own little world now.
"Imagine that, a 14 year old girl doesn't wanna have sex," says the one girl. "Has the world gone mad?!"
"Maybe pizza and hamburgers will be free, or grow from the earth like vegetables!" Yakusoku chided.
"Alright, alright, I get it." Chester gave the other male a shove to knock him into Massiel.
Their running slowed considerably ages ago, and now they were hard walking up the path to the school. Breaths as hard as their strides, they calm themselves down off the sprint and walk up the long row of stairs.
Spotting her sister, Massiel walks over, swatting her on the back of the head to say 'hello'. Chester linked arms with Sophie, and Enid just fell into step beside Yakusoku as they entered the building for another eventful day.
During lunch, the four heard about the two girl sleepover, and then they chatted about that night's episode of Hell's Kitchen and how that one chef Boris really got his ass served to him by Chef Ramsey, for mocking his saying of "its raw!" they spoke of other things: homework, projects, sports, vacations coming up in the summer and slowly Yakusoku began to die out of the conversation.
"Man..." Yakusoku started rubbing the side of his head as another migraine gripped his senses. 'Of all the times to get a headache.' He grunted in pain as thinking seemed to make it worse.
"Yaku', are you ok?" Enid asked petting his back.
"I'm fine. I've just got a nasty headache brewing." He replied. "I actually feel like I'm gonna throw up..." His circling fingers turned into a massaging palm.
Maina reached into her backpack and pulled out an Aspirin. "Here. Take this, it'll help." She handed the pill over to him.
He shook his head. Regardless his wanting one in the nurse's office, taking pills sometimes made the headache last for hours rather than minutes, or at least that's the way it was when he was younger. Who really knew now, but he wasn't going to risk it.
"Aahh..." He dipped his throbbing head; tears welled in his eyes.
"Ooohh..." The girls gave an empathetic sound seeing the tears.
Wanting to stop their sadness, he said jokingly through clenched teeth. "Just what I need, maidens crying out in sadness instead of pleasure." He issued a dry laugh.
Just when he was about to say something else the room slanted, like someone tilting a picture... no wait, outside isn't slanting... He is. Luckily before he slammed into the hard grass-covered dirt below he'd blacked out.
Yakusoku heard himself groan before his eyes opened. Fluorescent lights shined in his eyes making him squint.
"Mr. Land, can you hear me?" asked nurse Flint.
"Hmm?" He croaked.
"I asked if you can hear me?" She leaned into view, covering up the blinding lights.
"Yeah, yeah I hear you. What happened?" his groggy voice asked.
"You fainted during lunch," she replied. "Your friends said that you complained about another headache."
'You don't have to make it sound so small,' snipped the boy's thoughts. "Yeah, my head hurt really badly but... I feel all right now," Yakusoku paused after saying this, only to be sure that his wording was correct, and the pain had actually stopped.
Glancing at the clock behind the nurse's head, his dual gaze widened in shock.
"I've been asleep for 2 periods!?" his baffled words sprang out.
"Yes. Could have been from the bump on the head you took in the fall. You hit a small rock." The nurse tisked. "If Miss Aarenstrup hadn't grabbed your arm you might have only bumped your shoulder, but it's not her fault, she was only trying to help you."
'Remind me to thank her,' He pouted, rubbing the left side of his head where a small bump lay.
Seeing the displeased look on his face she said. "That should go down by tonight, don't worry." She handed him an ice pack.
"Thank you," he took it and pressed it to the welt. "Can I go?"
"Myy, aren't we plucky!" She laughed. "You may go- but walk slowly, please."
"I will." Gathering his things, the battered male exited the office.
He headed slowly down the hall; to anyone going by he was walking slower than needed, but he was a teenaged boy in school after all. What was the hurry? His gaze shifted to the right at the sign of movement. It was that girl, Maria. She looked even more lonely than yesterday causing him to frown at the thought of such a sad existence.
How could his friends be so cruel? everybody needs somebody... When he'd needed somebody the Land's took him in- twice! So what if he has a 'Hero Complex' was it a bad thing when you could make somebody smile?
The girl turned her head, looking down the hall directly at him. A weird smile broke out across her face; just as he was about to say something to her the last bell rang telling the kids to go on home, and the halls filled with children planning to do just that.
Turning his head, he was just in time to catch Sophie before she linked arms with him.
"I hate when gym is last period." She said in a small voice, as if saying it softly made it sound less like complaining. "Like I really wanna sweat on the already stinky, sweat inducing bus."
"So walk with us," bellowed Massiel, tired of hearing the bitching already.
"Why walk, when I can take the bus?" unphased by the girl's usual boorish manners.
Turning their attention elsewhere, Meina asks. "So how are you? Clean bill of health?"
"Bump on the head, but still standing, so yes." Yakusoku replied.
Noting the bandage, guilt trampled Enid's soul. "But you've still got that bump?"
Laughing, he replied with a shrug. "So now I'm rugged."
The other five figured he was fine and continued on their way out of the building.
Yakusoku went straight up to his bedroom to do his homework; it took him twenty minutes and he was almost positive three of the answers on his math sheet were wrong. But he didn't feel like going over it right now.
Plus, he'd never once felt the need to shout 'straight B's' at the top of his lungs so why should he care that he's getting them from lack of really applying himself. Going downstairs, he cracked the door to his mother's studio.
"Mom, are you down here?" He walked down the stairs.
"I'm right here, Yak- what's happened to your head?" She cried out when spotting him.
"I fell from the bench during lunch and cut my head on a rock." He replied loving the motherly treatment he was receiving for just a bump on the head. Her love really did keep him going sometimes.
"Oh dear." Quinn rocked him back and forth within her hug. "What were you doing that you'd managed to fall?"
"Nothing much. Bad headache, next thing I know I'm waking up in the nurse's' office."
"Well, I'm glad you're all right." She kissed him atop his spiked head. "You want some tea?" she asked pulling her dirty blonde hair into a ponytail, fully turning on her mother switch.
"I had a soda a while ago, but okay."
"You got it." Playfully pinching his nose, she walked out of the room.
Yakusoku took one look around and for a moment he felt a shiver up his spine, and quickly, he walked out of the room.
Being alone down there always gave him the shivers, and hurrying to the stairs he missed two shirts moving gently on a rack as if a gentle gust had blown them apart...