So much for the sympathy card because they all took Enid’s side, and for her to be so kind and sweet Maina said some pretty nasty things with her reply. Massiel told him that it was too late to ask for any help with the deranged girl, and for him to leave Enid alone- like he wasn’t already ordered to do that.
It’s been 3 summer days of being grounded and in the meantime, to keep himself from going stir crazy, he’s been helping out around the house. Mostly helping his mother with the store. It’s dull work, but it’s better than listening to Ai run in and out with his friends all day, getting popsicles or juice to cool themselves off while they boiled in the heat when swimming wasn’t as fun as it could be.
“Yakusoku, sweetie, hold the hem for me.” She hands the hem of the plum colored skirt up to her son’s awaiting fingers.
“Sure,” He replied needlessly. Watching his mother work for a moment, he says in the sweetest tone he can muster. “Mom, do you think I could go out... just for today?” Afterward, he added. “I won’t go far, and I won’t go to the Aaronstrupts’. I swear.”
His mother looks at him with a raised brow. Should she let her son go out? She’d heard about what he’d done and, honestly, she couldn’t believe it. That isn’t his personality. But a month indoors over the summer... With a small smile and shake of her head that she couldn’t believe herself, she nodded. “Just today- but stay out of trouble, alright?”
“Okay, mom.” He released the hem when her hand gave it a tug to be sure that it’s tight. “Thank you,”
He wrapped his arms around her for a hug, then quickly slipped the dress from over his head. He was sweating buckets in it since he still has his t-shirt and shorts on beneath it.
Laughing, Quinn swats her son away from her. “Go on, go. You need some fresh air.”
“Yes, I do.”
The teen dashed up to his room to change into a different pair of shorts and t-shirt since the others were practically saturated in sweat. Even with the a.c, his body temperature seemed to be rising beneath the layer of clothing he’d had on. This grounding could not have come at a worse time. Maria said she would talk to him the next day, and he’s been stuck inside for ages. She’s probably changed her mind by now. Or worse, thought that he was purposefully blowing her off, and she’s been waiting around to retaliate.
‘Listen to yourself, boy. You’re starting to think nuts as well.’ He zipped up his jeans then headed out of his bedroom. ‘Maria is a lot of things, but she isn’t capable of attacking me. She’ll understand that I’ve been grounded, after all, it’s her damned fault that I am.’
Charging down the stairs, he slipped his feet into his sneakers that sit by the front door at all times when they are not on his feet. Still stomping his heel down into the sneaker, the eager male exits the house, after grabbing a popsicle, heading straight for Maria’s once getting his bike from the garage. He hoped that her offer still stood. He just had to know of what she planned to tell him. Is she a neighbor? An old friend? She could very well be his weird sister, some families have that. Where it seems like siblings are infatuated or in love with another.
He had to shudder at the thought. If Maria is his sister, he’s gonna nip that 'love' thing in the bud, because it ain’t happening. It doesn’t really seem so far fetched now that he thinks about it. Sure he looks Asian, but how many Asians are known to have blue-green eyes, so he’s gotta be mixed with something.
Turning his bike up into the girl’s driveway, he hops off the bike hard walking to the garage door then he dropped the kickstand to keep it upright. Before he even got up to the front door the knob was turning then the door pulled open.
Yakusoku froze feeling a slight fear grip him. Did she see him coming up? Or did she know that he’d be coming today? It was unlikely because his father had sent Maria away on day one when she showed up at his house. He wasn’t allowed to go to the door, but he’d heard the conversation from his bedroom since it's directly up the stairs
Maria didn’t seem to upset about it, she just said ‘oh, well’ and left. He should have guessed it wouldn’t be that simple, and she’d keep at it with freaking him out. The only problem was...
“Excuse me?” He says to a dark haired woman that must be Maria’s aunt.
To say the woman was startled put it mildly. She’d jumped out of her skin, quick casting her eyes on him with a look that said she is seeing a ghost right now. How much she looked like her niece was odd. But her eyes are nothing like Maria’s though, they’re dark... blue he thinks... maybe black? Wait.. There are no black eyes. It’s hard to tell, but they are definitely not the horrid icy blue that Maria’s are.
But, initial shock gone, the woman’s looks aren’t so similar as his first glance thought, it’s just an overall shell kind of thing: same hair cut, nearly the same height as well. But, of course, her being a woman she has a slightly heavier build. Maria’s aunt was really making herself come off as shy because she didn’t reply to his question.
Yakusoku watched her, with muted interest, as she placed an odd sort of smile on her face. Actually, it looked as though she were blushing over something. Then with a slight laugh, she reached into the house to grab a large bag of trash. Yakusoku couldn’t help but make an off smile of his own, as a morbid thought crossed through his mind. Is it wrong to think it's funny for Maria’s aunt to have killed her, stuffed her into the trash bag, and is now dragging her out to the curb? Hearing a small grunt, he snaps out of his stupor offering to help carry the bag.
She smiled thoughtfully before tilting the knot of the trash bag his way. Maria’s aunt placed a clump of dark brown hair behind her ear, before digging into her pants pocket for a set of keys attached to a ring, which also held a black clicker for the car alarm and locks. She pressed the button for the locks, which shot the car into action by popping its locks up.
Bag in his grasp, Yakusoku couldn’t move for a moment, so busy staring at this woman’s doings, until his feet finally caught up with his gaze and he walked towards the street-parked car where the woman had just opened the trunk. Assuming the rest, Yakusoku hoist the bag up into the car, surprised when Maria’s aunt opened the door to the driver’s side.
“Excuse me?” He tried again but decided to be more direct. “Is your niece at home?”
This time, she does reply, her voice wasn’t like he’d thought it would be. It was tight and dismissive, but not cruel in any way. “Maria’s not here, sorry.”
“Oh...” Swaying on his feet with thoughts of leaving or sticking around to wait for her, he asks. “Do you know when she’ll be back?”
“Later tonight,” The woman climbs into the car. “I don’t mind if you come over.”
“Thanks.” He says, but thinks. ‘Like I’d wanna come over to this spooky place at night. Not for a second time.’ The engine of the car grabbed his lamenting attention, and he grabbed the frame of the open window. “Miss! Can I ask you something about your niece?” He walks a distance with the moving vehicle.
It seemed Maria’s aunt had someplace to be, badly.
“Alright, but I really have to go right now. To the dump, then to the market.”
Shaking his head with a cheerful smile. “That’s okay,” He hurried around to the passengers’ side of the car. “I’ll come with you.” Fastening his seatbelt, he asks, though he’s already thoroughly injected himself along. “Is that all right?”
Maria’s aunt seemed nervous a moment but then offered a faint smile. “Its fine with me, I could use an extra set of hands. Thanks.”
The car heads down the street with an ease you’d only see in an honest new car. And he would know since his father owns a few dealerships. Yakusoku felt so calm just then. It was weird. He’s usually not very good around new people- not without his friends with him- but with this woman, he’s strangely familiar. To the point where he felt he had to be on his best behavior to impress her. Ten silent minutes ticked by when finally Maria’s aunt spoke up.
“So, what was it that you wanted to ask me?”
Suddenly tongue tied, Yakusoku tripped over his words. “I.. uh. umm. Well, you see, a few days ago I found Maria’s diary- she left it behind at the beach, I’m not even sure that she knew she’d taken it with her- I didn’t know whose it was, at first, you see I had to read some of it, which is how I found out that it belonged to your niece- What?” He asked when seeing the woman shaking her head.
“Why do you keep calling her my niece?”
“Because she is- that’s what you told me. That she lives with her aunt.”
“Ha.” The woman scoffed. “That’s typical of her to think of me as an aunt, it lets her bad mouth me without the guilt.”
“Wha- wait, does that mean you’re actually her mother?”
“Marissa Ashford,” she replied. “Private nurse to the elderly.”
“Yakusoku Land,” he says blankly, “officially confused.”
Laughing, Marissa compliments him in a mutter of how sweet he is. And after calming her chuckle, she asks. “Has Maria done something that I’m unaware of? Sometimes, sorry to say, I let her get away with murder just to avoid her anger fueled episodes.”
“I wouldn’t know where to start. She stalks my house, scared my friends off and...” He didn’t want to say the next part on the count that it sounds ridiculous out loud.
But Marissa pressed him. “And...?”
“She says things to me... weird thing, like she knows me or something, but I don’t recall her at all. Do you know me- you say that you’re Maria’s mom?”
“I don’t know many of her friends, so I wouldn’t recognize you.”
“Then maybe you can tell me about her sister, and this guy named Kevin something. She said there was an incident, but never mentioned what it was.”
"I have a sister, but Maria is an only child.”
“But she kept mentioning hating you, and how her sister told the school about her being deaf. Then something happened with that kid Kevin... that was all.”
“I see...” Marissa cocked her head; a confused look on her face seeing all the relief that was suddenly washing over the boy. He was actually laughing a little bit. “What? What’s so funny?”
“I just didn’t realize how tired I was of being on my own with this. But you’re here, and you’re listening and...” His words trailed off, eaten by his eruption of his chuckles made harder by the thought that he must be coming off, to Mrs. Ashford, just as weird as Maria does to him.
“Well, to answer your question,” she cut in through his softening shakes of laughter, “my daughter does dislike me, very much. Our relationship turned sour sometime long ago. I wanted her to accept her disability and learn to use sign language. I thought that if I told the school, it would get her to come out of her shell because all the kids would know, and would do their best to befriend her.”
Yakusoku had to shake his head at the naive innocence of parents. They don’t know this generation very well, now do they? If they did, then they would know that being different can flat out kill you half the time. So much as having a large nose will get you picked on for 3 years. Having bad teeth another 4. The list goes on. Hell, you can even get picked on for being the smartest person in class- true, that most of the smartest people in class tend to be snobs and act like shit, but that would stop if they realized they were doing it. Maybe not.
But her reply left him to ask. “So, Maria is deaf?”
Marissa shakes her head. “Not just deaf, but mute.”
You’d swear the boy was just slapped in the face with something hard with the way he took that news. It was like an actual, physical blow. “Mute? How is that possible?”
He thinks over all the conversations he and she have had, and never once did he not hear sound from her mouth. Something is very fishy here. And someone is lying.
“Me and my friends have been having verbal conversations with her and every time we’ve talked, without her looking at us... she’s heard.”
“That isn’t possible.” Marissa insisted.
But it was weird, because when she said it she had a grin on her face. Or maybe, he’s just imagining things. It wouldn’t be a shock because his head began to pound suddenly like it had that time in the cafeteria when he blacked out. It's sharp, pronounced, like an earthquake in his brain and around it. His eye winked shut from the shatters of pain moving around, and he grabbed firmly to his head.
“This...” He strains out, “feels so familiar...”
“I get a nasty headache... then I’m tired and after that... a car pulls up in front of me, and-”
His words are cut short by his head coming into contact with the dashboard. His vision was darkened, then blurred back to colors as Mrs. Ashford looks over him.
“Are you all right? You don’t look so good, Yakusoku, want me to bring you home?"