The next morning, the two had a bowl of cereal then headed off to the park. They had plans to hang out with everyone as much as they could before Chester moved away. On the walk to the park Enid stole glances at the Asian American, she had to ask him something but didn't know how to approach the subject. Lucky for her Yakusoku caught on to her questioning gaze and asked, "What?"
"Nothing, nothing. Just wondering about last night."
"I don't wanna talk about it," he replied.
"Nooo, not that. Before that... you know, what we were doing."
"Oh, forget about it." He waved it off.
"That's just it, I don't want to 'forget about it'..." Moving ahead of him by a few steps, so she can watch his face, she says, "I like you, Yakusoku. I've liked you for a long time," She could feel her breaths coming out easier after her confession.
She'd been holding it in since they hit 12 years old, and she watched him bake cookies with his mother while wearing one of her dresses that, at the time, Mrs. Land was fixing the hemming. He smiled at her and said, You caught me, I'm a girl. And this is my cookie making dress. She laughed so hard that her heart fluttered the rest of the day.
"Honestly? Wow. I never would have guessed."
"That's because you're a boy, and men are oblivious to everything that isn't death, boobs, and a combination of the two."
Nodding, he smiled and said. "True." Enid shoved him, and he laughed shrugging his shoulders. "I think it'd be kind of weird dating- at first- but Chester and Sophie haven't had any problems with it, so, yeah. We can date."
"Yeah!" She cheered, fist in the air. "I mean, that's cool."
"Yeah... I like the idea of you-and-me."
The two laughed, pausing a moment when they reached the stairs leading into the park, then descended. As they scanned the area for their friends, they hurried over to the little area where the others were playing fetch by throwing a tennis ball for the twins' black Lab, Grapadora. The dog caught whiff of the two other familiars and began to bark, before trotting over to them.
"Heeey Grappa'," Yakusoku greeted petting the dog atop its fury head.
"Hey guys," Enid said acknowledging the dog silently.
The 6 hung out chatting animatedly, when Enid brought up the fact that Yakusoku saw Maria going past his house a few times.
"Want us to beat her up for you?" Massiel asked, hardly kidding.
"Yeah." Chester tossed the tennis ball. "I'd wear a dress to get in on that action."
Laughing, Yakusoku took the ball from the dog when its returned. "Thanks but, no, I'm gonna talk to her. See if I can settle a deal or something." His head lowered in thought, and in a sad tone he says. "I really wanted to befriend her, y'know, to make her feel less alone than what I used to." Yakusoku blinked in confusion. 'Where did that come from?'
"When did you feel alone, Yaku'?" Meina asked with honest sympathy.
Yakusoku shook his head. "I... don't know. Maybe at the orphanage." It sounded as though he was guessing, and it even felt like he was.
But damn that he couldn't place where the constant lonely feeling was coming from. Maybe he just felt different because he was adopted? Lots of kids that have been adopted always felt different from kids who weren't, he just might not be as aware of it as they are.
Still fired up, the bad twin said, "I still think she needs a good knocking around. Let her know her place."
"No, I'll just-..." But he cuts himself off and turned his head as if someone had called him.
Across the park stood Maria, almost hiding behind a tree peeking at them.
Following his gaze, Meina spotted the girl. "There she is now." She pointed.
Looking to where her sister pointed, Massiel clenched her fist. "Let me at her."
"No." Yakusoku insisted. "I wanna talk to her alone." Crossing the park, he stood in front of Maria incase Massiel, his sporty best friend, decided to throw a rock.
In the distance the others watched the exchange, and, after a short minute they all gaped as Yakusoku left the park with Maria.
"Hey! Where are you going?" Enid called out to him, feeling punched in the gut by this sudden turn of events. She thought Yakusoku knew better.
"I'll be back in a little, don't wait up!" Yakusoku called over his shoulder.
All of them felt a flare go off, as Yakusoku would never say something weird like: be back in a little. What is going on?
Voicing what they were all thinking, Sophie asked. "Where could he possibly be going with her?"
Yakusoku and Maria are headed for the Atkinson home.
He had somehow been talked into going with her. Part of him agreed because he wanted to speak with her aunt about the stalking thing. Another part of him was simply curious about her, and the reason he feels so weird around her. Drawn almost.
"I'm sorry, y'know." Maria said in a low voice. "For riding past your house so many times and... kinda hanging out at the rock climbing place... that time you and your family went." She glanced at him then looked back down at her shoes. "You must think I'm a real nut-job."
"The thought did cross my mind," he joked to ease the tension of the thickening air.
"I only did it because I thought that, if you saw me, you'd wanna hang out. And then the air would be cleared." Maria looked at him steadily now. "I thought that you might feel weird about it, after what happened last month."
The blonde's hand swung over, grabbing Yakusoku's into her own. The boy's first instinct was to drop it right then and there, but a hard lump formed in his gut keeping him from doing so. It's so stupid because he was completely used to being touched, but holding hands with her felt so damned familiar it made him want to vomit.
Swallowing hard to keep his voice from shaking, he said, "I'd like it if we just stayed friends, okay?"
Her grip tightened around his hand, her head dipped. The precisely cut blonde hair fanned out, blocking her profile. "Yes, I'd like that too," she said. Straightening she smiled. "I'd like that very much." Turning her head so that she was no longer looking at him, she dropped his hand almost like her hand spit his out- much to Yakusoku's relief. "Here we are- my house."
It amazed Yakusoku how different a place could become when one saw it in a different light. He'd dropped the girl off a couple of times, and it had always been a house. Now; he looked at the structure looming looming over him. A dark void in the universe ready to swallow him up. Much like how on the news a simple man had decided to become a terrorist, and suddenly a plain ordinary apartment home was labeled a 'lair', and any little thing inside was unbelievable to the news crew who invited themselves in.
A bottle of Ax soap was seen as some sort of obvious sign that the man was on the brink of snapping; red meat was commented to have been cooked medium rare for his taste for blood. It was ridiculous as Yakusoku heard it being said, but now he could understand their defining. His creeping distaste for Maria had made her a monster in his eyes.
The girl's words nearly pulled him into doing just that, but Yakusoku hesitated. 'Stop this!' he commanded himself. 'It's just a house; she's just a girl. There's nothing wrong with her.'
Maria stared at him as his thoughts floundered. She seemed to be thinking about something herself, but in a blink of an eye she stopped and said with a bit more force, "Come in, please."
"Right." He smiled dryly.
The house looks a little like his own; minus the fact that past the girl's body he can see into the kitchen where, oddly enough, is a bathroom.
'It sure would be awkward going to the bathroom in the kitchen,' he thought absently, snapping out of it when Maria giggled into her fingers. Her response to his inner thoughts was beginning to alarm him. "It's really hot in here." He commented to break the tension.
"Really? It feels fine to me." Taking his forearm, she led him over to the couch, dropping him off there. "I'll get you a drink."
Yakusoku looked about the simple living room with interest. A long couch is placed against the left wall, solid brown with a comfortable material covering it. The loveseat he's occupying is connected with the arm chair to make it seem like on long seat with an arm rest in an odd spot. A coffee table is sat proudly between the two couches making the set-up very cozy and conversational. The wall held pictures of Maria; and other people in her family, but her pictures seemed to shine the brightest. Her aunt must have favored her. It was weird, though.
Yakusoku stood up to get a better look. Something about her looked much different than the girl he was used to seeing every day. He couldn't put his finger on it though... 'Kindness?' he wondered to himself.
The Maria in the picture seemed to have a natural cool about her, and kindness in her eyes. What on earth happened to the girl to take that look away from her? Unless of course she really knew how to turn it on for a camera; he'd swear these photos were doctored.
Something called to him from the stairs, a little whisper saying: snoop more. But he's seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre enough times to know that snooping was never the right thing to do. But then again, how else could you have an adventure without getting yourself a little fucked up? Turning towards the stairs, he stopped dead in his tracks.
"Here you are," Maria returned to the living room. Cocking her head, she asked. "Where are you going?"
"Bathroom, I felt uncomfortable using the one through the kitchen so I went upstairs and," He took the offered glass, walking back to the chair, and took a seat, and he continued. "I thought I forgot my watch- I take it off so I don't ruin it when I wash my hands- But nope, I remembered it, see." He showed it to her.
Maria didn't seem to care either way, and took a drink of her apple juice.
Taking a long nervous drink of his own, he found himself snickering out loud.
"I was just thinking about coincidences, that's all."
Scooting a bit closer to her crush, knees touching, she asked. "Such as?"
"Just things, like I happen to like apple juice, and you with the ice cream- even now, I wanted to come and see you... and you came to me."
Maria looked at him face-on but her expression wasn't soft and thoughtful, it was hauntingly absorbent. As though her winter blue eyes were chewing his very soul away rather than just his appearance. Its unsettling.
"Maria... How did you just happen to decide that you felt the need to go to the arcade that day, and ride go-karts then get ice cream?"
"Are you kidding?" she said playfully. "Who doesn't like the arcade, go-karts was just a whim, and it was a hot day. So why not get an ice cream... Why are you being so paranoid?"
"Right, paranoid." He looked into his brown drink, the reflection of his face rocking gently back and forth. "Can you explain, then, how you knew about my name? I asked Maina and she said she didn't tell you. She hasn't spoken to you but one time in the girls bathroom at school."
Maria closed her eyes as though she were a child being scolded, though, Yakusoku didn't have a malicious or even serious tone. Just curious.
"Maria, I want to be your friend." His voice became stern just then. "But if you're stalking me... I can't say that we can ever be friends. And I'll have to tell your aunt, my parents, and maybe even a cop... I don't like feeling that my privacy is being invaded; I share a great deal of myself with anyone who cares enough about me. Whatever I keep to myself is my own thing, so you can see how it would hurt to have someone just going around and sneaking bits of me away. So please, whatever it is that you're up to... you have to stop."
Head lowered her brows furrowed then Maria spoke in a tight tone. Tight enough to strangle. Tight enough to kill. "Then maybe you should stop telling me things." Maria began to laugh right then.
'Something's wrong,' he thought with alarm.
Yakusoku tried to bow out gracefully, extending his arm to the coffee table to set the glass of juice down but missed it by a mile when his vision blurred so badly it was as if he had gone blind for a brief second. The glass clattered to the floor, spilling its contents onto the carpet, and a bit of it up his pant leg.
"Something is wrong alright..." said the girl finally looking up. Her eyes were hot as sub-zero ice, dangerous and ready to devour. "But I'm not worried, my love; our bodies have already begun communicating, and soon you'll see that we're the same."
Yakusoku shook his head rapidly, backing up to stand his wobbling legs toppled him right back to the floor. "Stop it... Stop talking like that," he whispered.
It was actually very hard to tell if he'd said anything at all, because it didn't feel as though he had. The room was spinning ridiculously fast.
"Dammit." He held his left temple from a headache so powerful that it shook through him like a blast. It felt like his brain were going to explode, just to relieve the sudden built-up pressure.
Maria's laughter rang a bit too loudly for his taste, making it worse. It was as if she were right in his ear rather than across the room. Was this from his sleep deprivation? Was he cracking up again, like he had that day in school? Another episode of microsleeping.
'I have to get out of here...' He rolled over onto his stomach to help his fallen form stand...
His breathing became hard and frantic. Chest rising and falling too hurriedly, heart beating hard enough to erupt inside of him. He was sore all over, but he couldn't stop running...
"Mommy! Daddy!" he called out through words reverting back to childhood where he felt like this. When he was frightened like this. "Help me!"
"Ssshhh, honey... Yakusoku, wake up." His mother's hushed tone pulled him from his sleep. "Honey, mommy's right here, ssshhh." Seeing his eyes drift open, she smiled to assure him that everything was ok. "That's my boy." She pulled him to her cradling him, petting his dark hair.
"What happened? Where is she?"
"Maria?" He tried moving away from his mother's embrace only to fall back from disorientation.
"I don't know. Home."
"What time is it?" he asked looking at his clock. "10:40... but how?"
Confused, she replied. "You came home after playing with your friends, had dinner, then went right to bed. Did you have a nightmare?"
He nodded. Though he was sure he was having an awake-mare... Granted such a word existed. But his muddled mind couldn't think straight at the moment. He had come home, ate dinner then gone to bed. How was that possible? He didn't remember any of it. He began to pant as he looked around the room, hoping that his confusion would vanish. He felt hot.
"I'll turn on the a.c." His mother got up from the bed. "Would you like me to bring you a drink? Something to eat maybe?"
"No. And thank you," he replied.
"No problem." She walked out of the room.
'See. That's exactly what I mean, my mother knew what I wanted without my saying so, but it didn't feel the same. With Maria it always felt like my thoughts were stolen, rather than understood without being said.' He grabbed his pillow when he laid down, nuzzling his cheek against it. It seemed, he still needed some comforting.
What was it about that girl that had him so afraid, and yet so drawn to her?
'I feel like I can't stay away. Am I losing my mind? Is she a witch that's got me under a spell. I've seen The Craft with Sophie, I know how that sort of thing works- that dude from Scream was under a spell. I believe in magic, so its not so farfetched.' He smiled, and was relieved that with his frazzled nerves he still could joke around.
He was also happy when the cold air from the a.c. washed over him.
'If it is magic, how can I face it? Just believing in it doesn't make me immuned, nor does not believing... she keeps saying that we're alike-drawn to each other, and just today she makes a claim that our bodies are speaking to each other. I have to figure her out, and unfortunately to do that... I have to snoop.'