Chapter 4: Surprise
Many days had passed by since I was told the news of a baby brother or sister. Not much has changed from my daily life. It was not until 6 months had passed by that my mother was beginning to take the toll of being pregnant. Thus, it was up to me and dad to handle the domestic labour in the house, so that she could properly rest and avoid the chance of harming the baby. I decided to put it upon myself to do most of the work as my dad was working a double shift from being a city guard and now to doing housework.
**It will not become any better when the child will be here. Farewell peaceful time and quiet nights. **
Fortunately, Gaia often came to help us.
“Gaia, you don’t have to do that.” I said as she was helping me again cleaning the floor.
“No, I want to help. You’re my friend after all.”
**Wow! I didn’t see that coming. Sure, we spent a large amount of time together but I wasn’t sure she liked me as she rarely ever spoke.**
“Thank you Gaia.” I replied in a sincere tone.
Afterwards, we continued to do the remaining housework such as cleaning the windows, washing the dishes and watering the plants. Occasionally, I was getting a few glances coming from Gaia, as if she was trying to tell me something, but was too embarrassed to do so. It was beginning to annoy me, so I took it upon myself to take the first step.
“Is there something you want to say to me? Don’t be shy, we are friends after all.”
She immediately responded.
“U-Um… i-if it’s alright with you. Do you mind if I could talk to you later, is that alright?” Her face was slightly red.
“Talk to me? You can’t do that now?”
She then turned to look at my father who was asleep on the couch. He came back from work earlier and wanted to have a short nap before his next shift but he was mercilessly kicked out of the bedroom by mother due to his loud snoring. Even now, his snoring continues to seep through the ceiling into their bedroom, tormenting my poor, restless mother.
“I want us to be alone.”
“Alright. When we finish here, we can go to the garden.”
“Y-Yes, that’s fine.” she replied with a smile.
**She wants to talk to me alone. Could this be… a confession? Wait, I have this weird sense of ‘déjà vu’. I don’t want to remember that day. Besides, she is too young for that… I think…**
After completing the last of the house chores, we went into the garden. Her beautiful face was tensed and her fingers twitched from nervousness.
**Shit, what will I do if she does confess? It’s child abuse!!! Well not really but I still can’t do it.**
Due to the tense atmosphere, I couldn't bring myself to look her in the eye. It felt like time was passing by very slowly. Gaia checking that there was no one around slowly put her hands on her head.
Her hands were trembling.
“I have something to show you.”
She carefully removed her wooly hat that she always wore, showing her beautiful black hair. I didn’t understand at first, until I saw what seemed to look like two cat-like ears sticking out from the top of her head.
“I’m from a beast tribe, Sillath-kun.”
The sudden news sent me into a state of shock and confusion, so much so that I couldn’t give an immediate answer. But it wasn’t the news that my best friend was hiding her identity this whole that shocked me.
**There is another species besides dwarves, elves and humans!?! Why has nobody told me about this sooner?**
“Do you hate me now?” Gaia asked with worry in her tone. She had probably noticed the surprised look on my face.
Her question instantly brought me back to reality. I looked back at her and noticed small tears forming in the corner of her eyes.
“No, no, no, no…” I quickly said, trying to reassure her.
“What are you talking about? I’m just surprised because I didn’t know that beast tribes even existed.” I laughed in the hopes of cheering her up.
“Y-You didn’t know?”
She began to wipe the tears below her eyes.
“No. Nobody told me before. So you’re from a cat tribe or something?”
“What’s a cat?” she questioned.
**Shit. I forgot there aren’t any cats in this world.**
“No, never mind.”
“I’m from the Kuro-hyou tribe.”
**Weird name… Is that like a cat? Maybe a big cat as it seems that every animal in this planet is huge. At least, according to my dad, there aren’t any monsters like I first imagined. No monsters except for the deviants.**
“Ok, well I’m not sure why you were worried but it doesn’t bother me at all.”
Suddenly, in an instant, she covered the small distance between us and wrapped her arms around me, like a snake coiling around its prey. Her change of attitude was so brutal that I didn’t know how to properly react. I simply stood at my spot as she hugged me. As she did, I noticed her ears began to move from side-to-side wildly. In sight of this, my hands began to twitch, as I struggled to control myself from touching them.
**I must not caress them… I must not caress them…I must not caress them…**
However, I fought the urge to take advantage of this situation. Afterwards, I was released from her embrace and asked:
“Why were you worried about that?”
She seemed to hesitate.
“S-Since it’s you, I could tell you, but… please keep this a secret.”
I quickly nodded.
“Truthfully, I’m actually an orphan but, not really. In fact, I’m not so sure myself. I came from a beast tribe that tends to travel a lot; we don’t spend too much time in one place. I don’t clearly remember how, since I was very young at the time, but one day I lost my parents and the rest of the members of my tribe.” she said in a depressed tone.
“Even after walking for days, I still couldn’t find them. However, in a stroke of luck, one of the people of this town found me and saved me. I had no home to go back to, no family to welcome me, so I was offered to stay in this town and make it my new home.”
I couldn’t help but feel bad for her. Her life must’ve been hard and hopeless. Each word she uttered gave me only a hint of the suffering and despair that she must’ve felt her entire life.
**I also know the feeling of despair, but probably not as muc as her. Not knowing if you have been abandoned or if your parents are dead is a huge burden for a small kid like her.**
“Nearly everyone is nice with me and I’m eternally grateful for it.” She continued with a wry smile on her pretty face.
“But everyone knows that I'm different from them. I'm not a human after all. That’s why I’ve hidden my ears, tail and barely spoke a word with anyone. I never realized before but I became so lonely.”
Then she looked directly at me. Her eyes seemed to sparkle as a warm feeling began to erupt from inside of me.
“Ever since you became my friend, I was finally able to enjoy my life with someone once again. And for that I will always be grateful to you, but…”
She paused. I began to look back, in a matter of a few minutes; she had spoken more to me now than the entirety of the year we met.
“What?” I asked.
“I want you to make me a promise. I want you to promise me that you will never disappear like my family and that you will stay by my side!”
She paused once again.
After realizing what she had said, she suddenly became red from head to toe, but she still held her gaze onto me. It was a powerful gaze, born from her strong-will and determination.
“I don’t know what the future will bring us, but I promise I will not disappear.” I smiled at her.
This time she didn’t hold back her tears.
The years of frustration and sorrow had begun to flow down her cheeks like and endless river as she hugged me once again.
I turned my head towards the sound of my name. In the distance, I saw a familiar silhouette coming my way. It was my neighbour, Amanda Finley.
“Sorry to call you out like this, but I have something to show you.”
“What is it?” I replied.
“In fact, it’s a surprise for your mother. I prepared it in secret so that you could give it to her after the birth of your baby brother or sister. It will happen in a few days, won’t it?”
“Yes, but are you sure? You should probably give it to her yourself.”
“No, she will be happier if it came from you. Come on, we must hurry!”
She seemed to be in a rush, because without waiting for an answer, she left. However, we weren’t heading in the direction of her house.
“Where are we going? Your house is the other way.”
“I know, silly. It’s not in my house.”
We continued to walk for a couple of minutes until we finally arrived at the forest near town.
“What is it that you have to hide it in the forest?” I looked around, but was only met with the cold winds as it shook the leaves on the trees.
“You will see.” she replied.
“It’s an animal, isn’t it? I’m not sure if mother will like it with the baby around.”
“It’s not an animal, but it’s a surprise.”
After delving deeper into the forest, she stopped and pointed at a tree with her index finger.
“It’s behind that tree over there.”
I slowly approached in the direction of the tree and walked around it, but I didn't find her present
**I hope she hasn’t lost it.**
I slowly turned around to look back at her.
I was struck behind the head and quickly lost consciousness.