Chapter 26 - A kiss
I opened my eyes full of water. Pablo sat beside me with his eyes wide open. “Kurumi! Are you okay?! I heard you screaming.”
He pulled me closer. “What’s wrong?”
“Had an n-nightmare... M-Mei –”
I buried my face in his chest. “It’s okay; I’m here with you.”
I stayed and let her cry in my velour robe. Her hair resembled velvet.
The sounds she creates are genuinely heartbreaking. I have never heard someone cry this desperately. I waited until she slowly calmed down and stopped sobbing. She pulled from me a little, and I placed a hand on her cheek.
“Do you feel better now?” I asked her.
I looked at his face. She didn’t know why but suddenly had the urge to kiss him. I can... I should. Our faces are close; I can feel my heart beating... Does he think the same?
Pablo suddenly reached closer and kissed me on the lips. I was speechless for a few seconds, feeling I’m about to get a heart attack. My eyes opened wide in surprise, filling with another wave of tears. I couldn’t believe it, feeling a lot of emotions at once.
I shivered in surprise; it took me a few seconds to kiss him back. My heartbeat became faster, and I was unable to say what exactly it is. I did feel nervous, hoping I’m doing it the correct way. And I was worrying if I responded too late.
Am I kissing her, correctly? Why am I sweating so much? She isn’t disgusted, or is she? She didn’t kiss me back right away. I hope she’s not uncomfortable.
Yet, Kurumi reached closer, and I wrapped my arm around her back. I can have my arm here, can’t I? I don’t know where to put my arms! Will she think I’m perverted? What ought I do?!
I felt her breath on my face and her boobs on my chest, breathing her scent while she caressed my cheek. Her scent is soft and reminds me of vanilla and coconut. I knew our first kiss is different than I imagined, and it must be pretty clumsy. Nevertheless, this didn’t matter. Kurumi pulled her face from me. Both of us are gasping for air.
We were smiling at each other, resembling two idiots.
“Uhm... What should we do now?” she broke the silence.
“Uh... What do you desire to do?”
“This isn’t a dream, or is it?”
“Why ought it to be?”
“I often have dreams...” she mentioned, and the smile disappeared from my face. “Dreams, which force you to scream? Not dreams. Those are nightmares.”
She sighed. “Sometimes happens. Nothing serious, really!”
I noticed tears in her eyeballs. “Oh no, did I do anything wrong? It was too sudden, right? No, I didn’t mean to upset you, I –”
Before I finished the sentence, she hugged me and buried her head in my shirt, sobbing softly. “I don’t know why I am crying.”
Kurumi sobbed louder now. I was confused. “What’s wrong? Did I do something wrong?”
“No, no, I’m just... very moved.”
“I didn’t want to upset you! I’m so sorry!” I caressed her back.
“No, i-it’s not your f-fault. Let’s do something to cheer me up.”
“We should eat.”
“Yeah, right, let’s do that...”
We sat at the table in the kitchen. “What do you desire to eat?”
“I don’t mind.”
I opened the fridge and gave her sausages with a ketchup bottle, fortunately, found in the refrigerator and not in Mizuki’s room. I also placed bread, cheese, jam, butter, and cereals on the table.
“I don’t know what do you eat for breakfast, so choose a meal, I guess.”
Kurumi picked the cheese, slices of bacon, and sausages. I casually ate toasts spread by strawberry jam.
Kurumi gazed at the window, seeing the grass and trees waving in the wind. We played some videogames before she realized what time it is and declared she has to leave.
“Why don’t you stay longer?”
“I don’t want to bother your parents. I’ll go.” she shook her head and grinned at me. “You don’t bother them.”
“Well... I don’t really wish to bother your mom with lunch, I’ll feel bad, so I’m leaving. Also, I’m thankful for letting me stay here.”
I reached closer and kissed me on the lips softly. I returned the kiss, placing my hand on her back.
“I don’t want to go.”
“I wish you’d stay too...”
“I must go, though... I’m sorry.” she pulled away from me.
“We should focus on our studies.”
“Exams are going to be soon. Anyway, I wish you a great rest of the weekend!”
“Maybe I could’ve stayed at his place. However, I somehow felt his parents don’t want me there all the time. They need their privacy.”
I strolled down the street and decided to shop for groceries. I bought milk, sausages, chips, chocolate, eggs, flour, sugar, salt, tomatoes, bananas, and apples. “This ought to be enough. I could make pancakes today.”
As I left the supermarket, I checked my phone. “Huh? Is it only eleven-thirty? I thought it’s thirteen o’clock. That’s so weird. I guess... I did not eat lunch, after all.”
After coming home, I made pancakes and ate them. Until now, I had no idea how hungry I was. “Weird,” I mumbled, eating pancakes with jam.
“You didn’t know or realize you haven’t eaten anything yet?” The voice questioned. “Maybe you are going crazy. And nobody will love a weirdo.”
I twitched. “That’s not true! I am not insane and weird!”
“A lot of people say you are.”
“Don’t bring up what happened in the first year of senior high school! You very well know in what way Mei’s death affected me!”
“You could’ve saved her if you decided to move sooner.”
I covered my ears, knowing it’s will not help. “Shut up!”
The voice continued, blaming me for everything. “It’s your fault. It’s your fault what happened to you in the past. If you never existed, nothing would happen. Your parents probably didn’t want you anyway. You caused the Satou family death of their child.”
“STOP!” I yelled, “LEAVE ME ALONE!” How can someone help me from this voice? Doctors would send me to a psychiatric hospital! The psychiatric hospital is like a prison - only one bed, and you only take pills. Everyone judges you badly. You can’t have any visits.
It’s a prison for mental illnesses, with a very long hallway. I don’t have a mental illness. I can’t have one! And sometimes, from the hospital, people don’t return. What do doctors do with them? Torture or kill them? Guilt-trip them until the patients die?
It will be okay. Voices are going to disappear. They aren’t real.
I slowly sat on the floor. “Is everything good only an illusion? Could Mei be one because I didn’t have any friends? Could she die because it was my fear? Is Pablo fake? And Mizuki? She could be a phantasm too? Everything is so messy! Is all of this fake?”
I teared up. “Am I living in the illusion I made because of my dreams and loneliness? Watching the other me live her strange life, feeling as if it’s not me at all? Feeling as I’m my ghost, floating and watching the life of the other me.
I grabbed my phone and entered the password code with my shaky hand.
I scrolled down to contacts and eyed Pablo’s number. “Is this number real? What if I just made it up?”
I gulped tears. “And even if I’ll hear his voice, what if it’s also going to be not real? How can I make myself sure what’s real and what’s not?! When I see things, others don’t?!”
I dialed his number, hoping he is about to pick up. He really did. “Hello, Ku. Did you need something?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. You can hear me, yes?”
“Can we meet somewhere? Like in the park?”
“Uh. In which park?”
“Near your house.”
“I didn’t know you knew there was a park, but okay.”
“Can you also bring a mirror with yourself?”
“You will see.”
“Okay... will not question it.”
We met at the park, and he did take the mirror with himself. “What are you going to do with it?” he asked, confused.
I took the mirror and turned it in an angle where both of us could be seen. Pablo was there. Phantasms aren’t visible in the mirrors, right?
I sighed in relief.
“Kurumi? What is happening?”
“I just wanted to make myself sure if you’re a phantasm or not.”
“Phantasm?” Pablo asked in a mix of surprise and confusion.
“I wasn’t sure if you’re fake or not.”
“Kurumi? What does that mean?”
“You could be an
made by my brain. I had to make sure this is real. That this exists. This word. Everything.”
I turned around. In the park was a path made of asphalt and around it were sakura trees. The wind ruffled through my hair, and something fell on the ground.
“Snowflakes?” And really, snowflakes started falling on the floor. “I didn’t realize it was December already.”
“If I tell you a secret, will you promise me you’re not going to judge me?”
Pablo gulped and nodded. I looked at him. “Sometimes, I can’t tell the difference between reality, dream, and an illusion. I started feeling insecure.
Some things seem so real but aren’t. It’s hard, but I can deal with it. Maybe you would understand me... I’m trusting you with this. “Don’t mention it to anyone, please. Let this be between us. You’re my best friend, after all. So can you promise you won’t tell anyone? Can I rely on you?”
He nodded. “You can. I won’t, I promise.”
Pablo came closer to me under the sakura tree. He reached his hand, and so did I. Our pinkies touched. I smiled. “Okay. The promise has been made.”
I imagined this while I stared at his number. Would he react this way? And would I have the courage to tell him? Definitely not.
It was December, without me noticing. Sometimes it snowed and sometimes rained.
Pablo, Mizuki, and I hang out in a park. Mizuki faced me.
“Hey, Ku, when is your birthday?”
“Birthday? Why?” I disliked birthdays.
Sometimes I wished I was never born. What are birthdays even for? It’s such a long time since we stopped celebrating them. We never celebrated anything after what happened.
“Oh. So that I’d know, I like knowing birthdays of my friends, so I can always wish them a happy birthday.”
Happy birthday? Would the siblings care about my birthday? Maybe, maybe not. Why, though? I don’t celebrate them anyway. I don’t have anyone to celebrate with.
“The Fifteenth of December,” I said monotonously.
“Why such tone of voice? The birthdays are great! I’m sure you’ll get a ton of gifts and celebrate with your parents.”
“Yeah,” I responded. Parents? Where even are they? Somewhere gone. They don’t care anyway. “I don’t celebrate anything.”
The siblings looked surprised. “You don’t do anything? Not even Christmas?”
“I don’t celebrate Christmas.”
“And your family doesn’t too?”
“Mizuki!” Pablo rebuked her.
“I don’t know.” These questions were slowly getting on my nerves.
“You could celebrate Christmas this time to relax and be happy!”
This was too much pressure on me, and anger got the best of me. “I DON’T EVEN HAVE ANYONE TO CELEBRATE WITH! THERE ISN’T ANYONE WHO WOULD CARE!” I yelled with tears. A second after this, I realized what I had done and freaked out. No, not again. I don’t wish to turn into a monster! Not again!
Before they could do anything, I cowardly ran away.