Once upon a bed, Arthur told stories to a little boy he called Alfred It was a magical occasion for anyone who witnessed it and they were always blessed with pleasant dreams that night. No one really questioned how England came up with these wild tales with ghosts and flying bears and the mysterious places where they lived, but figured that the old country was just talented with storytelling and so they went with that.
Alfred was only three years old when a terrible thunderstorm hit across the land with winds that thrashed harshly against the mansion where he slept. He did live in a brick mansion luckily but all the same he was terrified. The trees from his bedroom window seemed to beckon for him to come outside into the dark night where streaks of lightning would crack in the sky every few minutes and then fade back behind the rainclouds. He was going to try to stay strong until a loud BANG hit his window; a tree branch had broken loose and had nearly broken the glass.
That was the last straw.
America whipped the covers off of himself and ran down the hall into the master bedroom where a large bed was and jumped on top of it, this was followed by a slight “oof!” as the person who was sleeping in the queen bed sat up, rubbing his head.
“Alfred, what’s gotten into you?” the voice whispered with a clear hint of annoyance.
“It’s-it’s, the window-outside” said Alfred, very frightened and was close to tears now. “Something almost broke it” he was crying now, “I’m sorry.”
“There, there” the man said in a soothing tone as he pulled the boy into his arms and wiped his eyes, “I know, the storm is very scary. You were very brave.”
Alfred nodded while keeping a solid grip on the person’s night shirt as he tried to overcome his crying. He couldn’t remember the last time he had cried but was sure it had been some time.
“Arthur-(Alfred coughed) what can I do?” Alfred asked quietly.
Arthur returned the question by covering him with the bed’s blanket over the little country’s head as they laid down on the pillows, facing each other and brushed the boy’s bangs out of his face.
“I have a story that might help . . . it involves some boring creatures like, dragons-
Alfred’s eyes suddenly opened a bit wider.
Alfred snuggled a little closer, now nearly consumed by the blankets,
“And a few other details...”
He began then with the tale. Alfred’s interest grew, even managing to block out the frightening sound of thunder coming from outside and instead only focus on the tone of Arthur’s voice filled with excitement and spoke breathlessly, his dark eyes focused on his younger brother’s, watching them sparkle as he went on.
Arthur’s story went on even after the storm had long sense deceased. He spoke in great detail of battles as though it was a memory of his own and talked long into the night. It was around midnight when the stars had come out from behind the clouds that Alfred’s breathing had slowed and was now a steady rhythm, peaceful. His eyes were closed and his fists no longer tightly clenching the blankets but at ease. Arthur had reached the climax of his story only to find his brother sound asleep beside him. He paused where he was and adjusted his position on the mattress, taking in a deep breath and then letting it out as he pulled the covers up to his shoulder.
“Well, there’s always another day. . .”
Then the two slept as the raindrops dripped from the roof top and onto the fresh grass below.
16 years later. .
Kiku woke up to the sound of birds coming from outside. He sat up and tried rubbing the sleep out of his eyes with his long kimono and then got up to make some tea. As he drank from the warm cup, his eyes became aware of the bird’s chatter growing louder outside. He then went over to the window and opened it, revealing the bright sunlight from outside.
“Go away! Shoo!” he cried as his ears slowly filled up with the sound of the village where he was. Kiku was the sort of person that preferred to hear only the quiet sounds that a human may utter or for an animal, the soft purr that a cat would make, providing comfort and a soothing touch to a beautiful day that lay ahead for him. With that, one of his many cats came up and meowed to him.
“Yes, I will feed you,” replied Kiku and as he blinked again and added, “. . . all of you.” For now there were five more cats before him. He then wandered over to a pantry and kneed down where the cat food was kept and started scooping up the kibble and then walking over to the five dishes that lay on the floor near the window where he previously was. After filling up his cat’s water supply a knock was heard. Kiku walked calmly over to where the sound came from and slid open the door to see a Japanese Man waiting patiently to speak.
“Yes?” asked Kiku
“Good Morning to you Sir, the weather outside is splendid,” he said in good tone.
“I have personally asked for Mr. Yamaha to pay a visit here after his morning appointment in Niigata. You said before that you would like to make arrangements to see him so you could talk about future plans for the bridge project this spring.”
“That was good of you to set out and find him for me. Thank you.”
“Yes of course,” said the man, bowing now slightly flustered. “Though I hope there were not any unexpected conflicts with this-?
“No, this is fine,” replied Kiku rather quickly, eager now that his stomach was hungry.
“Wonderful. Well I will let you get to your things. I will see you later then,” said the man, raising his hand slightly as a sign of farewell.
“Yes, thank you.” Then the door was slid shut.
Kiku then made his way to his kitchen and started to make himself fresh tamagoyaki’s’. His morning remained peaceful as he listened to the sound of the knife chop up the onion steadily along with other various vegetables he had inside his fridge. He then set the pot to boil filled with added water and slowly let himself become mesmerized as the water began to boil. He cooked the vegetables and then dumped the pot into the drainer in the sink, letting the steam rise up and made Kiku’s face sweat mildly. After adding a few touches, the meal looked spectacular and smelled simply delicious.
As Kiku settled down to eat, he then began to hear a commotion from outside but ignored it, for the food was just too good to resist. The texture of the onion’s juices producing a sweet and salty complexion and adding a hint of spice was exactly what this morning called for. Sweet tea with honey and lemon; everything was so peaceful.
Although shortly after Kiku was nearly finished, another knock was heard on the door. Kiku sighed, his little time with himself was over, and walked to the door and opened it to see a small child.
“H-Hello? Who is this?”
“My name is Ganji,” a boy about 4 feet high said on the mat before Kiku’s house. He has an interesting completion for his black hair managed to stick out everywhere and had very rough skin covered in bruises and dirt. He smiled wide showing surprisingly white teeth, looking up at Kiku. “I know you are very important and you see, my friends and I were playing with this ball and well, we think it ended up in your yard, sir.”
“Ah,” said Kiku, as though he was suddenly a very wise old man, “Let us see if we can find it.” Kiku gestured for the boy to come forward and together they walked to Kiku’s backyard where there were small ponds with lily pads, sculptures on fountains, and green grass that ran up to your ankles. They looked around for a few minutes before Kiku spotted a strange round object in one of the ponds.
“That’s it-my ball!” said Ganji happily and ran over to grab it before it could slip closer to the center. “Thanks sir,” he added, turning to Kiku.
“That’s wonderful,” said Kiku, smiling slightly, “I hope you can find your friends and continue the game.”
“Yeah, thanks again, sir!” replied Ganji.
“My name is Kiku, if you wanted to know.”
“Oh,” Ganji paused for a second before adding, “thanks Mr. Kiku!”
Kiku went a little red at the sound of his name and then walked the boy to the door and waved goodbye. Ganji ran off, calling out names as other children started running toward him and soon they disappeared behind an alley. Kiku watched silently from where he stood, trying to recall the last time he had gone out and played ball.
“Well, that was nice.”
‘Yes,” said Kiku, coming back to reality now, “very nice boy. . .”
“He’s pretty skinny, I would have given him a chocolate or something-til dinner, you know?”
“Dinner . . . yeah-eh” Kiku didn’t remember talking to himself and turned to see America leaning up against a post, looking kinda serious as though he was really determining what he was going to give the boy if it were him.
“MR. JONES?? I didn’t know you were here-
“That’s alright,” said Alfred, turning to Kiku who was now very embarrassed, dabbing a handkerchief on his forehead under his bangs. “I always arrive undetected so that my boys back home don’t start spreading rumors about secret alliances of something.”
“Aren’t they already doing that anyway?” thought Kiku, but collected himself then put away his handkerchief. “Well, what are you doing here this early?”
“Oh, right! It’s like eight here or something, I keep forgetting-though I flew over myself and parked around the corner about an hour ago. You see, I forgot where you lived and . . .”
“So that was the reason I heard so much commotion earlier. . .” Kiku thought, putting the pieces together. His stomach groaned slightly, Kiku could feel it turning. He wondered why-must be the digestion.
“. . . so then I saw you staring out into space right where you are now and then BOOM! Here I am,” said Alfred, crossing his arms and looking out confidently as though he had done something as amazing as-well, more amazing then explaining flight traffic.
“That’s wonderful, though I didn’t seem to hear why you are here in that speech of yours,” said Kiku. His stomach nudged again this time a bit more painfully. Now Kiku was more aware of its unpleasant groaning as Alfred begun to explain. Suddenly he began to feel quite warm from where he was and started to lean on part of the porch where he stood. America paused from speaking and Kiku could tell he was now sensing something was wrong.
“Ehh, Alfred, I had some breakfast this morning and maybe it’s not agreeing with me right now. I don’t know why. . .” Kiku opened to door and trailed into the kitchen to where the ingredients still sat on the counter and began reading their expiration dates and soon came across a fish package.
“2007-Well, that explains it. . . Alfred, I just need this bottle-
That’s all Kiku could muster before he felt himself being dragged to a couch where his head was pressed up against a pillow. His stomach burned and he took deep breathes in and out. Loud footsteps where heard for Kiku had closed his eyes, trying to fight the pain and suddenly felt a metal object shoved in his mouth with a creamy liquid that tasted the exact opposite of something pleasant such as a strawberry or mango. His face twisted as he swallowed, now was not the time for any food. A voice echoed from far away and soon his forehead was cold. Something wet was there now, water though did sound good at least.
Now a fan had turned on and a loud firm voice was talking from behind him and then followed with the sound of the phone slamming. A blanket was draped over him and now Kiku realized that it was medicine that was now entering his system. He was not sure if this would do much good for how he was feeling now but it was a little relief and gave him hope for better.
The burning had gone on for five minutes now. Kiku, sweating like a pig, tried turning to see what difference it would make by tilting his head up or trying to lift his legs. Soon other voices had entered the room making Kiku a bit more uncomfortable than he was a few seconds ago. Hands were touching him and without warning a needle was inserted into his left arm. Kiku’s eyes bolted open to see wavy sorts of people surrounding him.
What is this nightmare..?
Though the burning had calmly started to cease and he was given a large glass of water before a voice told him he could rest now.
Kiku opened his eyes, blinking a few times to adjust to the lighting. The room was lit up as though it was nighttime. He sat up slowly, then became aware of his bed hair.
“Wow, you sure gave me a scare,” said a cheery voice. Kiku turned to see Alfred’s back to him in his kitchen. He turned his head in Kiku’s direction. “Not sure if I’ll be eating fish anytime soon, but just so you’re aware I guess I didn’t need to call in all those people. Well, I’m glad I did anyway. You were freaking me out-I had no idea what was up with you so I guess I went all hero-mode and they gave you a shot so you got quicker relief than that stuff in the cupboard.”
Kiku sat up a little straighter, thirsty but was very relieved to hear it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
“Thank you Alfred, though I hope this didn’t cause any problems for you. In case what you were asking me was important and needed taking care of.”
“No way-like you’re my bro dude and if you’re ever in any need, you got me; alright?”
Kiku nodded, breathing in and out as one of his cats leapt up onto his lap, wanting attention.
“Oh and that boy from earlier,” said Alfred, Kiku jolted up and looked at Alfred in the face while he petted his cat, “he heard about the incident and stopped by, wanting to check on you; see how you were doing.” Kiku listened hard now, gaining his focus back. “Well, I told him you were resting but he could stop by tomorrow.” Alfred slightly chuckled after this.
“What is funny about that?” asked Kiku.
“Oh, well he insisted on leaving this ball here. He won it in some contest or something and wanted you to have it. I put in over there, by your umbrella.” Alfred said, gesturing with his right elbow due to his hands needing their concentration where they currently were.
Kiku looked over to the area and couldn’t quite see it from where he sat, but trusted it was there. He sat back against the arm of the couch and stared up and down, thinking.
“I know it’s a bit cheesy but, you up for some grub I made here? It’s fine if you’re not but I was getting kinda hungry and didn’t plan on staying here so long so I’d thought, why not make something while I’m here?-and yes, I have cleared out all of the expired stuff for you. All that had gone back though was something called rice cakes,” sounding light-hearted and happy to be cooking, whatever it was.
“Thank you Alfred, I am hungry and could use a soda. A blue one in the fridge,” said Kiku, now finally alert and feeling more alive than tired. Alfred had it in seconds and passed it to Kiku.
“You know, I kinda almost wish we had cool drinks like this at my place. Though, I guess it would take a lot of thinking to make and sense everything is now all mega size now-oh! Right!” Alfred focused his mind back on his cooking. Kiku, now curious to what on earth Alfred could be making, watched from the couch taking occasional sips from his Japanese soda drink.
“A-ha! There and done!” spoke Alfred proudly, turning around to present his dish. They looked like meat and lettuce wrapped up in a large corn chip shaped like a taco filled with noodles. Alfred walked over to Kiku with the large plate of six of the meals, total.
“So, what so you call this?” asked Kiku, trying not to be hesitant.
“Spaghetti tacos my-man!” replied Alfred as he opened up a small pouch filled with sour cream.
“A home-made recipe?” asked Kiku, slowly taking one and setting it on a smaller plate.
“Well, more like something offline-though I’ve had them before and they’re really filling,” said Alfred, taking a bite. He chewed slowly as Kiku silently watched him swallow. “See, good as anything. Now your turn.”
Kiku inhaled and exhaled and then took a bite from his. It tasted very smooth and elegant compared to its looks on the outside and the tomato sauce was surprisingly good with all of the taco ingredients. They both eat in silence for a while before Alfred had finished nearly all three of his tacos.
“So yeah, the reason I’m here . . . guess I should finally share it, hmm?” said Alfred, having a small laugh.
“Yes, you should,” agreed Kiku, enjoying the American tacos and starting to feel full.
“Right, so I have a question. Have you . . . have you ever heard of the story called, Peter Pan?”