I wait for the car to pass before I cross the street.
Me: I am not sure if I got this right,but...
(Everyone, tomorrow,10a.m..!meet me at the fountain at stadbelle plaza!)
Before we wake up, I think Ray told everyone to meet up here only, today. I glance at my watch. It's just before 9.30.
Me: I got here so early.
(I am so nervous.)
(I am meeting them for the first time in real life.)
The fountain showers fresh drops of water into the basin below as I walk over to the other side.
I stop in my track.
On the bench. I see someone with silvery hair sitting with his eyes closed.
(That guy looks a lot like Subaru.)
The earbuds in his ears tell me he wants to shut the world out.
I lick my lips and muster up the courage to walk towards him.
I slowly step closer. He suddenly looks up.
In an instant, I see an image of Subaru in my head,his two-toned eyes shining in the dark.
(But this guy...)
He looks up at me, confused. As I stand there mystified,he tilts his head, furrowed his brow.
Me:Subaru?is that you?
Subaru:who else would it be?
Me:but your eyes...
A grimace flashes across his face for a quick moment,but he immediately put on a straight face.
(Oh,shoot. I know he doesn't like talking about it...)
He pats the space next to him. I take a seat.
(I wonder how long he's been sitting here. Was he nervous like me and came here early?)
Me: I have been super anxious all morning. I could not stay still,so I am here early. What about you?
Subaru: I made an excuse to go out. It feels a bit uncomfortable staying at home.
Me:do you have trouble with your parents?
Subaru crosses his legs
Subaru:no nothing like that....
(I guess Subaru doesn't like being at home. I wonder if it has anything to do with him not liking his eyes. What happened to make him so self-conscious about them?)
I gaze at his blue left eye.
(They are so captivating.)
Subaru looks at me, clearly unsettled.
Me:n-nothing . It's just that...
(He's wearing a colored contact lens, isn't he?)
Me: I know it's a touchy subject for you...but I really like your eyes, Subaru. Your real ones are beautiful just the way they are.
Subaru looks at me wide-eyed. But he doesn't really say anything,and his gaze grows even more intense.
(Gah! stop looking at me like that!)
But Subaru doesn't say anything more,and I am too shy to start a conversation. We endure the awkward silence until Ray shows up. Ten o clock, right on the dot,Ray shows up. There's no mistaking him,even from afar. He's wearing his signature University jacket.
Ray:is it just you two?
Me:it seems so.
Ray clicks his tongue and look at his watch. It's only been a few minutes,but Ray's already impatient. Seeing how he came right on time. I guess he hates being kept waiting. He didn't even sit down.Subaru ,on the other hand, doesn't seem to mind.
Ray: seriously, which part of ten in the morning did they understand?
Me: lets wait a bit . I am sure they will be here.
Ray folds his arms. I lean forward to get a better look at him. He seems very similar to the Ray I know in the nightmare world.
(Well of course. He's the same person.But the atmosphere surrounding now...)
Ray:gosh,we are wasting time.
(Yup ,this is definitely Ray.)
Ray: let's go.
Ray turns to leave,but as Subaru and I stand up,we hear a voice in the distance.
We see Thoma dashing toward us, his bright smile even more magnificent in the light of day. He halts, doubling over as he catches his breadth.
Thoma:were you really going to leave without me.
Ray:you are late.
Thoma:just by ten minute,jeez!
Me:hey,Thoma!I knew you had show up.
Thoma laughs,standing up straight.
Thoma:wow,look at you guys. I can't believe we all are here.
Thoma is not any different than he is in the nightmare world. He's still hyper as ever. Hes kind of obnoxious,but his presence always lightens the mood.
Me:what about Licht?
They all look at me.
Me:you didn't forget,did you?we should wait for him too.
Thoma:hey!so you will wait for Licht,but you were not going to wait for me?wow, Jessica. I see how it is.
Playing along with his sarcasm, I lightly pat him on the cheeks. We decide to wait for Licht in the park for an hour.
Ray: I guess it's no use waiting for someone we are not sure is coming. We only met him last night,and we didn't get much from him either.
Subaru:he could be dead.
Subaru mutters. My voice shakes.
Me:c-c'mon, don't say stuff like that.
Subaru: its not impossible.
Thoma:hmmm. If he died,we would've heard about it on the news this morning.
Thomas's words offer me some relief.
Ray:well,whatever the case, we've got stuff to do.
Ray walks off. We all follow after him. As we walk, I can't take my mind off of Licht. We end up at Ray's house.
Ray:just wait here.
Ray leads us into the living room and starts to go off somewhere.
Thoma:wow,you have got a nice place here,Ray. Do you live alone?
Ray just passes us by and goes across the hallway. Subaru looks around,seeming especially interested in the bookshelf.
Thoma:oh look,he was so cute when he was little.
Thoma picks up a framed photo and I lean over to take a peek too.
A smiling woman stands beside a little boy with a determined smirk.
Me:ooh!you are right!look at his cheeks!is this his mom?
I smile as I study the picture,but Thomas's hand tremble slightly.
Thoma:we,uh,better put this back...
For a split second, I could've sworn there was a small,sad look on his face.
Ray: I get it already.
Ray's voice comes from afar,and we see a woman dragging a suitcase.
Ray's mother: I will call you in the morning, alright?
Ray:mm-hmm. Have a safe trip.
Ray smiles gently.
(whoa. That's new.)
The woman notices us and stops in her tracks.
(It's the woman in the picture!)
Ray: these are the people I told you about.
Ray's mother:oh,hello. It's not often that Ray brings his friends over. Unfortunately, I am on my way out the door for a business trip,but make yourselves at home,alright?
Ray:you better get going or you'll miss the train.
Ray shoos her in a playful kind of way.
The scene warms my heart and remind me of my own life at home.
(Even if we end up like adventurers in the nightmare world......we are still just kids in the end.)
Subaru:must be nice.
Subaru's comment makes me glance over at him.It was almost inaudible,but I couldn't miss it.
As soon as Ray comes back to the living room.Thoma locks his arms around Ray's neck.
Thoma:aww! I didn't know you were such a mama's boy.
Ray:hey,let go of me!
Thoma let Ray go and Ray fixes his hair as he drops to the sofa.
Ray: alright, now I believe we have things to talk about.
Thoma:why are you so serious again? Didn't you bring us here to celebrate the joy of living.
Ray:we will have no life to celebrate if we can't figure out how to escape our nightmares.
Me: your mom was in such a hurry,we didn't get to say goodbye.
Ray brings his thumb to his lips.
Ray: she's not actually my real mom. I don't have a dad,by the way. She lost her husband before I entered the picture.
Subaru:you were adopted.
Thoma:why are you suddenly bringing that up?
Ray : because if my hunch is right,that means same goes for all of you too.
(Ray is saying we are all adopted?)
The suddenness of this stupefies me.
(No,no,no, I was raised by my real-)
I stop myself. I guess I won't know for sure unless I check my family revord.
Thoma:you can't just go telling people they are adopted,Ray. Why would you even think that in the first place?
Ray: you yourselves admitted to not having any childhood memories.
Thoma: that still doesn't mean....
Ray folds his arms.
Ray: Subaru seems to agree with me.
I bite my lips, glancing at Subaru, who's quietly listening to the conversation.
(Is that why he seems so hesitant to talk about his parents? because he knows they're not his real family?)
Subaru: to some degree it makes sense. We are all without a past. Ray and I know we have been adopted. There's the orphanage too. There's a 50% probability it's all related to the nightmare we've been having.
The relevation hits me hard . In an instant, the image of my parents flashes into my mind.
(We're happy, aren't we?I have always wondered about my past,but I've never considered that I might have been adopted.)
Me: I am just very surprised that's all. I am so overwhelmed. But......my parents have been with me all my life. They're the only family I've ever known. They've never mentioned anything about me being adopted. I don't know if it's true or not.
Thoma grits his teeth.
(This is hitting him hard, that's for sure.
But what can I do?)
Thoma:fine,lets say we are all adopted. I will have to live with that in my mind for now.
Ray: you don't have to accept it right away. We don't know for sure yet. But if it's true,it might just be the key to solving these nightmares.
(Ray's usually abrasive with his words, but he knows this is a lot to take in.)
I start to think of the parents who raised me.
(I probably should find out for sure, but I can't bring myself to ask.)
We spend time trying to put the pieces together until evening.
Me:oh, its already eightp.m.
I yawn as I stretch my arms wide. Although I know I have to stay vigilant, I can't stop myself from yawning.
Come to think of it, I am awake during the day and explore the nightmare world at night. Do I ever get rest?
Thoma: hold up, you're sleepy already? I thought we were gonna stay up all night. If you are the only one to fall asleep, won't you get pulled into the nightmare world alone?
His words slap me awake. I am terrified of falling asleep now.
Out of nowhere, Ray sets four capsules on the table.
Ray: I thought this might help.
Me:oh, I've heard of this. It's a stimulant.
Subaru:do you need a prescription for that?
Ray: perks of being a med student.
We all decide to take the medicine.
Me: I hope this actually works.
Ray:of course it will.
(But it's impossible to stay awake forever. At some point...)
Ray finds his way around the table to sit beside me. I look at each of their faces.
(No doubt, they all realize this but aren't saying anything.)
Thoma finally breaks the tense silence.
Thoma:dang, I feel so weird!
Ray:sit down. Why can't you just keep quiet?
Thoma chuckles as he sit down a glass of juice for each of us.
Thoma: I am just feeling it,you know? didn't you say we could get high from this drug?
Subaru: you make it sound so illicit.
Subaru appears with a book in hand. He holds it up and turn to Ray.
Subaru: do you mind if I borrow this?
Ray:go ahead. We all need something to keep us awake.
Thoma: I wish we had coffee though.
Ray:well, it's not on the menu.
Thoma: what if we get nightmares while we are awake?
Me:is that even possible?
Ray: that would be more like hallucinating.
After sometime we try to put ourselves busy.
Thoma:look what I found!
Thoma excitedly pulls out a Box from under the table.
Me:ohhh! snakes and ladders?
Come on lets play. Board games are fun, and can help keel us from dozing off too.
Me:hey, Subaru, wanna join us?
Subaru closes the book he was reading and looks at me.
Subaru: I don't really know how to play that.
Thoma,: seriously,who doesn't know how to play snakes and ladders?
Thoma gets up and pulls Subaru down to sit with him.
Thoma:now listen up.Lucky for you, the master is in the house.
Ray: this game is for little kids. It does not take any effort to master.
Ray doesn't seem to budge,so I catch him by the wrist.
Me:come on, Ray. It will be fun.
He just sighs and picks out a player token from the box.
Thoma gives Subaru a rundown of the rules,naturally. Subaru catches on quickly.
Subaru:so with the ladder the token goes up. And if it's snakes then you have to go down,right?
Me:you got it ,Subaru.
There's a ghost of smile on his lips.
(He seems to be enjoying this already,and we haven't even started yet. That's cute.)
Thoma: alright, alright, lets start.
Thoma and Ray: I will go first.
They both look at each other competitively.
Ray: its my game. I am going first.
Ray reaches out for the dice,but Thoma slaps the back of his hand.
Thoma: I suggested we play,so it should be me.
Me:guys, that's not really-
Thoma: besides, you didn't even want to play.
Ray: I am playing now, aren't I?
Before I can finish what I was saying, Subaru reaches out to the board. He picks up the dice and starts rolling it. In the end, Subaru beats all of us.
Thoma: I can't believe this. I demand a rematch!
Subaru:stop bothering me, I have had enough.
Thoma clings onto Subaru,pleading for another round.
(Thoma was bit upset earlier. I am glad he's back to his playful self,at least.)
My field of vision starts shaking violently.(huh?)
The ringing of the bells resound in my ears,a painful reminder that our fun has to come to an end.
Me:no.no.no! I can't go to sleep...
I try to blink, fighting the drowsiness.
But in the end, I finally close my eyes.