Chapter 29 - An imaginary friend
[Kurumi’s POV/THE PRESENT/BEFORE MEI’S DEATH]:
The next day was the same as the previous day. I woke up and had breakfast with mom. Then mom got dressed again, just like before. I was hoping a spoon and now dropped it in the bowl of cereals.
“I’ll be right back.” The woman with raven hair and light blue eyes smiled. I watched her close the door.
“Mom...?” I sobbed, “Can I go with you?”
“This isn’t for kids; stay here, sweetie.” The woman grinned, when looking through her shoulder and locked the door. I was left sitting in front of the door and knocked.
“M-mom? Not again, please!”
No answer. I waited and waited, but mom disappeared.
“M-mom. I’m lonely. I have no friends. Can you pay my attention...? Please...? Can you listen...?”
I almost got up quickly, seeing a girl with white hair giving me a hand.
“Want to be friends?”
The girl smiled, and I thought she resembles a devil. Her hair was longer white, covering her light blue left eye, chain with a paddock, and a spiked collar on her neck. She wore a steel blue blouse, sapphire bow, and a black cape. From her back grew black wings. Her teeth looked pointy; she had bat wings instead of ears. The shoes she was wearing were white, with two light blue stripes on the opposite side each. “You appear lonely.” The devil girl said. She didn’t have horns, but she had a black tail ending with a triangle.
“I can be your friend.”
I turned my head to the right side. “What’s your name?”
“I don’t have a name.”
The little girl with hair covering the left side of her face still had tears in her eyes. “Be my friend... Please.”
I nodded. “You have white hair... And blue eyes like me.”
“Of course I do. You made me.”
“What do you mean?” The devil girl offered me a hand, and I let the devil help raise me.
“You were lonely.” The girl shrugged, “You made me—an imaginary friend. Your mother began ignoring you and not listening to you. You felt lonely, right? That’s why I am here.”
“What do you wish to do now? We could play a game.”
It was like if I heard the voice in my head; however, it would belong to a person.
The devil girl suddenly held a cup with some liquid. “Let’s play tea party.” she smiled.
“How do you play it?”
“Simple. Just drink tea and talk. Imagine you’re someone else and talk about your dream life.”
What this girl said resembled something from a world book, and I giggled.
“You start.” The devil smiled. So I did. “I am a Princess who lives in a cool castle. I have a nice mother and a ton of friends... I have a dad too.”
The devil girl made up a story too. “I live on the dark side, where I have a cool house. It’s haunted, and there are a ton of spiderwebs everywhere.”
“I dislike spiders.” I shivered.
“What if they were made cute and pink?”
“I still think I would dislike them.”
After the tea party game, we played cards, which this girl brought with herself.
I decided to name her. “What name would you like to have?”
The girl seemed surprised. “You desire to name me?”
“That means I’ll belong to you...”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t have an owner, no name. If you name me, I’ll be yours.”
“Huh. And what name should I give you?”
“I can’t choose.” The girl shrugged. “You have to name me.”
I watched this girl with interest. I sat on the opposite side than the devil, holding a pack of cards. “I’ll call you Shinshu.”
I played with Shinshu until the door opened, and mom came in. I jumped from surprise and dropped the cards.
’I’m back.” mom smirked. I gazed at Shinshu, but she and the cards disappeared.
I peered back at my mother.
“Welcome back, mommy,” I mumbled.
“How was your day?”
“It was fine.” mom nodded and walked up to the bedroom. She didn’t come out, so I decided to make a snack. Shinshu appeared again beside me. “Thanks for naming me.”
I nodded with a smile. Shinshu continued, “I will keep you company, but there’s something you must do for me. Let’s make an offer.”
“What offer?” I asked insecurely. Shinshu’s tail wagged.
“Let me in your body for the next day.”
I waited for Mei, who was early and disappeared to the restroom. Mei noticed I followed her only after the door closed behind me. “Satou Mei.”
“What do you want, Sakura?” Mei asked and faced me slowly. I kicked her.
“OW!” she shouted. I repeated the action and then slapped her twice harder than usual. Mei kneeled on the ground. Her nose bleed.
I have become a monster, haven’t I...
I sobbed hysterically, words getting stuck in my throat. “Stop, stop, please stop. I don’t want to; I don’t wish to! Stop, please, stop!”
“Hmm...” Shinshu hesitated. “You should never forget this. Oh, only if your boyfriend knew that.”
“He’s not my...”
“Oh?” Shinshu smirked. “I don’t think so. Even after he confessed, how about that, huh?”
I got up and ran to the kitchen cabinet. Shinshu floating above the ground made a surprised expression. “Where are you going? What are you doing?”
I shakily grabbed a jar with pills and threw one in my mouth, swallowing immediately. Shinshu only stared at me. “Those pills you stole from your mom? She was just as crazy as you...”
“It was you who ruined my life. You and only you.” I said without even glancing at her.
“Besides, you don’t even know what’s in that jar. Are you insane?”
“Maybe I am,” I mumbled, waiting for the effects to hit. “Calm down; it’s going to be okay in another second...”
I forced myself to believe it’s better. I fixed the calendar on the wall with a stare. “Huh. It’s my birthday today. What a miserable day. And how am I supposed to fall asleep now? At least I have enough time to calm down. Birthdays are never fun or special for me.”
“Of course, your mother never celebrated your birthday. She hated the day she gave birth to you!”
I twitched. “Shut up, you’re annoying.”
“And you’re a crybaby.” Shinshu pointed at the tears on my cheeks. “And you’re sobbing, and you look disgusting.”
“Thanks! T-t-that improves my mood!”
Pablo desired me at his place by 5 pm. What could he possibly need? I’m scared even to fall asleep—no more nightmares. I’ll hate sleeping this way. And I hope Shinshu disappears soon. If I took the right pills, she will... I hope he can cheer me up. He’s probably the only thing keeping me alive. Otherwise, I’d... Yeah, I’d be dead.
I sat at my desk, watching the world behind the window. Main anime protagonists usually sit next to a window. Some of them have a miserable life—kind of like me. I wish I could live in everyday life. Why can’t I be normal? Why do I have to be broken?! What did I do to deserve this? Maybe I did deserve it for what I did in the past. Is God punishing me? Is there even a God?
The class was slowly filled with students. Pablo came to the room and greeted me. The first class was history, and I couldn’t concentrate, even if I usually listened to history classes.
“Kurumi? Is something wrong?”
“No, I’m fine. I just had a nightmare.”
“An ugly one?”
“Yes,” I said monotonously. “I keep having nightmares. I’m scared of falling asleep. What can I do to make it better?”
“Awww. Need a hug?”
I nodded, and Pablo hugged me. I calmed down a little. He pulled from me after a few seconds. “If you have problems with sleeping, try keeping your lamp glowing. Or sleep with a stuffed animal.”
“Thanks. I’ll try it.” I murmured.
Pablo probably felt sorry for me because he tried to cheer me up somehow. At lunch, he shared his bento with me. “I actually feel better after eating. When I’m stressed, eating helps.”
“I hope you’re not going to develop an eating disorder.” he sounded worried.
“Don’t worry. Want a sausage?”
“I’ll feel bad.”
“Fine.” I gave Pablo the sausage, and he ate it. “Why do you always bring sausages with yourself?”
“Because I love them!”
After school, Pablo reminded me to meet at his place at 5 pm.
“Why? Why do you wish to meet me at your place at this time?”
“You’ll see. I have something.”
“You have something for me?”
“You’ll see,” he repeated mysteriously and placed an index finger on his lips. I felt confused and also impatient. What does he have for me? What’s Pablo planning?
Students wrote tests from history and literature today. Everyone helped cleaning the classroom and sooner left the class. On the train, I sat beside Pablo and watched the families going by, feeling very weird. I could make myself an imaginary family, though it’s not the same.
I got off the train sooner than Pablo and hugged him, saying goodbye.
At home, I left my bag and disappeared to the supermarket to buy some bacon-flavored chips, along with sakura flavored coke. Kurumi usually liked sakura flavored things. Mizuki baked cupcakes before I returned from the school, and we were standing on the table.
“Do you think this is going to be enough?” I asked Mizuki, pouring the chips in a bowl and placing cola on the table.
“I think, yes. It’s not a big birthday party, but still something! We have cake, cola, cupcakes, and chips. Also, I have clothes for her, and you have plushies.”
“I’m scared it’s not enough.”
“I think it is. Besides, we also have a gift from Mai. She couldn’t come, because she and her friend planned a trip and sleepover a long time ago, and now it’s on this day...”
“What did Mai give Kurumi, though?”
“Figures of three cats. I have her gift here.” Mizuki said and placed the gift on the table. “We have almost everything.”
Gifts, food, and glasses stood arranged at the table. Mizuki placed the paper with the inscription “Happy birthday, Ku!” on the table too. The article was in a decorative frame.
“Perfect,” said Mizuki excitedly. “We’re ready. Parents aren’t going to be home, so it’s just the three of us, and Ku doesn’t have to feel embarrassed. Mai can’t interrupt either, as she isn’t home.”
I sausages on a plate. “Yeah. I can’t wait to show her this. I hope it’s going to cheer her up.”
“Definitely.” Mizuki smiled. She researched which trains arrive at what time, and I wrote a message to Kurumi about which train she can take.