So What Will You Do Now?
It’s 12:50 p.m. and the day had only just entered the hotter phases of the summer. It wouldn’t cool off until sometime around 8 o’clock tonight. Doesn’t help that there isn’t a cloud in the sky.
Yakusoku takes an offered bite of ice cream sandwich from Ai, offering his little brother a bite of his wild strawberry popsicle. It’s an especially hot day today, and the two are lying outside in the backyard on the large hammock hoping for a breeze to come through.
“Yaku’...” his brother began. “Are you losing your mind?”
“I wish I were, but no, I’m just going through something stupid.” He sighs sleepily.
God, how fucking hot it is. When will this heat wave break? He can’t go to the beach, he isn’t interested in playing with the hose like some kid. If they had a pool he was sure that he wouldn’t be able to use it in his grounded state.
“But I do know how to end it. And just as soon as I’m done with being grounded, I’m gonna talk things out with Maria, and everything will be good.”
Ai scoffed at that. “What happened the last time when you came up with this elaborate plan?”
“I have no idea. I’m too easily distracted.”
“Mm.” Intoned the boy thoughtfully.
The swing sways gently back and forth; the two occupants are silent. It was a perfect serene moment up until Yakusoku felt a familiar buzz in the back of his skull. Looking around, he spotted the cause of it. Maria. Or at least, he believes it’s her, all he saw was a crop of blonde hair over the brown wooden fence before it wandered away as if knowing that she’d been spotted.
“Ai, can you cover for me while I go?” He gets up from the hammock.
Steadying the rocking net bed, Ai replied in a bit of confusion. “Sure, but where are you going?” He climbed out of the hammock when his brother reached the door to the gate.
“I just have somewhere to be right now.” He walked out.
Ai looked out the door. Seeing the blonde girl just a few paces ahead of his brother, Ai shivered. Freaky chick.
The two walk quietly along beside each other for a bit. Purpose in their steps and a set location in at least one of their minds.
‘What is it that you hope to gain by following me?’ Maria asked suddenly.
Yakusoku had to jump just then because it sounded as if the girl had spoken directly to his brain. It sure as hell felt like his own thoughts only it was in Maria’s voice if that’s at all understandable. Normal people would have run screaming, but Yakusoku was getting used to the girl and her freaky tricks, along with the strange things that happen whenever he’s in her company. So he shrugged it off, going with the flow.
“I wanna know how you know me. And why you’re so hell bent on having me be with you. I know what you want when you look at me, Maria, but you’re not going to get it.”
“Hn.” She intones smugly. ‘You haven’t even bothered to notice, have you? You and I aren’t like everyone else, and because of this we’re doomed to be alone. But you’re here now, and because of that, we won’t have to worry about the world rejecting us. We’ll be all we need.’
Frowning, he speaks softly to remove the growing agitation from his tone. “I admit that it would be nice to never wonder if I’ll be alone forever, of course, I want that void filled but... I’m afraid.”
“That you’ll kill me, just like you killed Kevin.”
The air seemed to still right then. Maria stopped walking, Yakusoku went past two steps turning around to see the bitter smile that just plastered itself on her face.
Yakusoku’s eyes went wide in momentary shock. Face-on he could finally see that the girl wasn’t moving her mouth, and she’d just spoke to him.
‘I liked Kevin, but he was normal. I looked past that and chose not to care.’ Her grin turned lopsided, as she thought about the boy from her childhood. ‘I was stupid to think he would understand, even more stupid for showing him what I can do.’
“What can you do?”
"This.” Maria raised her hand out in front of her.
Before Yakusoku could figure out what had happened, he felt something heavy slam into him, knocking him on his ass to the heated concrete. Maria approached him quickly, and with a strength that could only be described as otherworldly, she grabbed him up by his shirt collar and dragged him out through the woods.
How had he missed it? It was just like his dream. Well, maybe not entirely because in his dream he hadn’t seen who was pulling him. But the area was the same. He didn’t notice how far from his home they had walked until it was too late to do anything about it. What will she do to him? Will she kill him? Keep him tied up there as her love slave? It would be kind of hard to keep someone tied up in the woods without someone hearing them. Unless, like in his dream, there is a cabin as well.
No sooner had the thought crossed his mind does a door creak somewhere ahead of him. He’s literally launched into the small shed, slamming painfully up against a wall. His landing was soft, though, and opening his scrunched eyes, he sees that beneath him is a flimsy little futon bed. When the door closed he looked up, the male had to recoil believing that Maria would pounce him like a wild mountain lion with a fresh kill in her midst; but Maria took a seat on a stool beside a tiny rectangle shaped table that held a small battery operated lamp, an AM/FM radio, a half eaten candy bar, and a bottle of piss-warm sprite.
There is a window, small and out of the way to the girl’s left. Past her is the exit. The only exit. He knew he couldn’t make it by, not with how the girl was able to knock him down like she had. He would have to talk his way out, and hopefully, he could.
“Where are we?” He asked first.
“My getaway spot,” Maria replied easily enough. “We can talk here.”
“And you won’t do anything to me? Poison my drink, or food?”
Smiling, she grabbed the bottle of soda giving it a side to side jiggle, before uncapping it for a small swig. “Bleh.”
The gesture was far too normal for the demented girl, that Yakusoku almost told her to knock it off. But he didn’t dare do something like that.
“Well, unless you want a melted candy bar or some piss-warm soda, you can see there is no food nor drink in here to poison you with.”
“Thank goodness,” he said it in a teasing voice surprising himself even. It must be from the fumes of melted Musketeers bar. The strong scent is making him lightheaded.
Maria put on a sweet smile as she stared at him thoughtfully, before deciding to share what is on her mind. “Its weird, getting this far.” She tapped the wooden table top with her index finger. “I feel like I’ve already lost you, but here you are, with me again.”
"Tell me why you keep talking like that- who are you?”
Her ice blue gaze lowers to the table then cast itself back at Yakusoku. Softly she spoke to him. “When I was born I had no cry. Sure, I was crying, I was screaming my head off... but no sound came out. The doctors ran a test on me thinking I had something lodged in my throat, but they discovered that I was perfectly healthy. I was merely born without sound, mute, as they say.”
Yakusoku nods but asked hungrily for information. “But why can I hear you now?”
Maria only snickered, then continued speaking as if Yakusoku had said nothing at all. “For years, I tried to make friends without speaking. I would pass notes, try coming off as aloof, to just molding myself into a group of people, but... in the end... nothing worked. I would only catch them with fingers pointed and laughing expressions from their stupid faces. It tore me up inside.”
Tears welled in Yakusoku’s eyes. He could actually feel what Maria was feeling back then, and probably even now. It was as if all the scorn and laughter from those brats was directed at him suddenly. He wanted it to stop. He wanted the noticed feeling to go away, he had to hide from it, but where? In his own mind? It would be the only place to escape, by not acknowledging it at all. Right? Maria’s words pulled him from her emotions, setting him back down onto the futon and in the present where he is.
“Everyday I would go home and look over those ridiculous books for Sign Language, my mother had bought for me. She learned it fairly easily, but as for me... I didn’t see the point. But I did want to learn how to speak to the kids. Having never heard words for myself, I needed a lot of books and things to help me so much as pronounce on paper ‘hello’. But with hard work I had done it. That’s how I was able to pass notes.”
Her arms cross under her small breast, but they’re set low enough to make you think they’re larger. “It was then that I learned how to read lips. I would let them know that I understood, but the kids weren’t buying it. I’m not even sure if anything came out those times I had tried to verbally speak- one kid did scream when I tried to say ‘hi’.” She looked utterly embarrassed right then. “I kept praying for someone to find me a way to be normal, a way that I could speak so that maybe I could escape from loneliness. ...And that’s when it happened.”
A grin spread across her face, the grin seemed to dry up the tears that were forming in her eyes but had not fallen during her confessed childhood struggle.
“Truly a gift from the heavens for all the trouble I’ve been through. I heard someone’s thoughts, my teachers... Mrs. Scanlon developed a headache in the middle of class, she was bitching because of Pepper Thornton’s stinky gummy bears, that she was eating while we watched a movie in class. It was amazing. From then I heard other people, kids in the cafeteria, the playground- everyone!”
And her excitement even leaped into Yakusoku! He wanted to do it too!
“It was frightening, at first, so many voices were coming in all at once, that I was finding it hard to determine which ones were mine. It hurt so badly that mentally I screamed and screamed at the voices to shut up!” She scoffed. “My thoughts had projected outward into everyone’s mind, they heard me scream “shut up” and they all jumped away.”
Yakusoku’s mouth was parted in disbelief. Is this true? How can it not be? But, Maria is right, it truly is amazing.
“I lied to them the next day at school, told them I got an operation done. And, to answer your question, I moved my lips so that when I spoke to them it wouldn’t freak them out. It took all of Springbreak to properly teach myself how to push and pull thoughts from people, and send it to them...”
“Weren’t you scared, though? I mean, amazing as it was, it still must have been freaking you out.”
“After the initial shock, I was too excited to be scared. After a point I did start to wonder what it meant, though, I don’t know, an inner conflict you could say. Was I good or bad because of this gift? I could communicate like I’ve always wanted to, but it also meant that I was further separated from my classmates.”
“I’ll bet.” He was completely enthralled by all this.
“You know, the human brain can be fooled into anything. I move my mouth and everyone believes it’s their ears hearing me, and not their brain. They think that I am hearing them rather than their thoughts because, whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re thinking what you’re saying either as you say it, or a little before.”
That was very true. Yakusoku knew that for sure. That’s just the way it works.
“I had monster-sized headaches because of this. I was often home from school because they were so severe. My mom... I couldn’t lie to her, so I told her that I was throwing my voice, she and my cousin believed it. I would make my dolls talk, he loved it. He was glad that I learned to talk somehow, but he said he loved me anyway I was.”
Yakusoku smiled. At least, she had someone.
“He was with me, though, when my doll moved on its own,” She said with a look on her face that showed how vivid the whole thing still was to her. “I wanted to get it from the toy chest and it popped right into the air. We ran screaming, terrified.” She laughed then. “It never happened again, though.” Maria lowered her gaze to her lap. “You know what sucks, my mother spat ‘demon’ at me when she found out the truth. She hated me fiercely... that’s why I keep my dad’s last name.”
She shakes her head wanting no sympathy. “I liked Kevin, I’ve told you that, I wanted him to know the truth before my mother could get to him. I went to him, asked him out, but he said no. I told him not to be afraid of me, or what my mother had said about me- that it was a lie. But he still shunned me. I don’t know, I wanted to show him, but I wanted to show him too badly and... it was like he’d been unplugged because he just collapsed right in front of me. He’s... he’s still in a coma today.”
Yakusoku drew in a sharp breath.
“I was flagged then; the kids thought I pushed him down the stairs at school because he’d fallen down them when he’d collapsed... We moved; the egging and broken windows had become too much.” Placing her hair behind her ear, she shrugged. “I lied my way through school here, hoping things would be different. Then there was you. Yes, I stalked you, but I’ve never felt this way about anyone since Kevin. Is it so wrong that I became greedy for your affection?!”
“Yes! Maria, you can’t force yourself on people. I get it, I really do. But its never good to pressure someone to like you. It only makes them anxious in your company, and they tend to want nothing to do with you.”
Maria clenched her jaw at that. “...And if I had asked you out?”
Yakusoku could not believe she was still on the kick of having feelings for him. “I don’t know,” He answered truthfully. “I really don’t know. I feel weird around you, I’ll admit that, but I don’t like it.”
“Its because our minds are communicating, Promise, and it’s making our bodies simply hot for each other.” She stands.
Yakusoku felt sick for himself when he began to tremble from panic. He moved back into a corner of the bed.
“The moment I saw you, I saw it; your mind reached for mine, clawed for it. Couldn’t you feel it?”
He had felt it. But he wasn’t going to tell her that.
“Oh, you don’t have to say it. I can tell. The longer I’ve lived with this gift, the better I became at using it- to the point of sensing it within other people.”
Shaking his head, he barks out. “You’re wrong! I’m nothing like you, I’m normal!”
“It is normal!”
Yakusoku shakes his head rapidly. This is all happening so fast. He wasn’t supposed to argue with her, they were supposed to be on good terms by the end of their conversation. Why had he followed her? Why?! Trying to calm his breathing and nerves, and get the conversation back on track, Yakusoku holds up a hand to ward off her approach, but she’s already right up in his face; her ice blue eyes are scanning his face trying to make eye contact so that he can see how much she loves him.
“Maria, the reason I’m talking to you now is because I wanted us to be friends- just friends- I’m not afraid of you, or your gift... so please... stop all this and take what’s given, or suffer in having nothing at all.”
That did it. “Why are you rejecting me?! Don’t you hear what I’ve been saying?!” Her breathing is raspy and frantic. “Why are you denying what you are?!”
“Because there’s no way that it's true!” He has to shout in order to be heard over her erratic breathing. “I can’t be a freak, and you have no way of proving....”
Cutting him off she slapped him across the face. “Stop calling me a freak!” Her body is a bundle of shaking nerves now, her trembling hands remove themselves from the grip they’ve taken on his shirt. ‘Don’t!’ She snaps at him when he tries to touch her. This time, she said it without moving her lips.
Each time she did it, he could feel a punch to the brain. It was nauseous making. It felt like his nose were bleeding, only its running down his throat.
‘Promise... you and I will never find happiness apart. They will never accept you and me.’
“I had friends, and a girlfriend until you ruined it.”
‘You never should have been with that bitch! You’re too good for her, she didn’t deserve you!’ She’s rocking back and forth, head down, fist balled and beating at her lap. ‘I never had anyone...’
When she began to cry, Yakusoku decided that was when he would take his leave. She would no doubt be distracted with her tears, and he simply is not getting through to her. Maria brought it on herself. She will be alone. Probably for the rest of her life. His exit plan wasn’t a slow one, Yakusoku was no dummy. He planned to bolt the second his shaking legs were able to stand solidly.
‘You’re not going anywhere.’
Yakusoku didn’t see it with his back to her, but she pulled out a needle containing a light brown liquid. It was effortless the way the needle launched from her grip soaring across the room and into the back of her prey’s neck. The exiting male staggered in shock that something has just hit him; reaching up, he removed the needle from his neck. His limbs went numb almost instantly.
“Dammit,” he mumbled before his jaw froze in place like the rest of his body.