This is a commissioned piece of literature. Any views shared in the piece are not my own.
It all began with the luscious scarlet of her eyes and the clearness of her milky skin, the melody that was her laugh and the sweetness of her heart. I was consumed, encapsulated by her beauty. A tail it had wrapped around me and pulled tight, comfortably tight and I had welcomed it. At first it was a distraction from all the horrid in my life, but it had soon sprouted and grew into the jungle it was today. I sighed and tugged on a loose shoelace, quickly knotting it.
“Ken, hurry up!”
I smiled. How could I not crave it; the magnetic atmosphere she had? It sliced through the darkness like it was nothing, but it was everything. It had been everything. Just like she had consumed me, the demons of my past had once consumed me too. It was much sinister; as soon as you think you’re ‘better’ it comes up again to dig its nails in your throat, tear out your jugular and feast on your flesh.
“Ken! We have to leave now,” she called hurriedly. “Akihiko is probably already at the park.”
My brows furrowed. “He’s coming? Why?” It was a childish whine and I instantly regretted it. I wasn’t a child.
Kotone poked her head through the door gap and grinned. “Because I thought it would be fun.”
Fun. Yeah right. He was anything but fun.
“You should bring your ball, so you can play and stuff.”
“I don’t play Kotone.” I snatched a jacket up from my bed with a huff. “I’m almost an adult, you know.”
She snorted. “Ken you’re eleven.” Her eyes darted around the room. “This is a mess, no wonder you’re taking forever to get ready.” She picked up a sock from the floor with a grimace. “How do you ever get anything done?”
“I get things done,” I muttered. My cheeks were hot. Things had been rough recently, after what happened. Cleaning was the last thing on my mind, still I was embarrassed she saw it. I’d have to clean it when we got back.
“Okay well, hurry up.” She dropped the sock. “I’ll be waiting outside.”
I exhaled upon her exit. Jeez. My chest shook with the quickened beat of my heart. I shrugged on my jacket and waved to my fish.“Bye Goldie, wish me luck.” With the slam of my door I left.
Kotone was quick to link her arm with mine as I reached her at the porch. “Come on dork, lets go!”
The spring air entered my lungs with ease as we walked along the occupied streets of Iwatodai. Besides Kotone’s soft hum and the brutal woosh of cars the walk was torturously silent. I wanted to say something, anything memorable but, the duration of our walk to the park didn’t allow it. I twiddled my thumbs and stared at the ground. Please, brain think of anything. If not her love, at least earn her laugh. Ugh, that sounded too cheesy even for me. Never-mind just make decent conversation.
“Nice weather.” I coughed. Nope. Not funny at all. Great.
“Mhmm, I bet the cherry blossoms look spectacular this year.” A healthy flush coated her cheeks. “Oh, look it’s Akihiko. Hey Akihiko, over here!” She waved enthusiastically. Other pedestrians looked to her as if she was insane.
Akihiko stood as the park gates. With a less enthusiastic wave he leisurely made his way over to us. “Hey Kotone, Ken.” He rustled my head. “How are you going buddy?”
He held himself with such confidence, and smiled with a face built by the gods. In comparison I was a mooshed lump of clay, molded by someone as incompetent as myself. It’s said that once out of puberty things will settle, my nose too big and eyes too small would no longer look unkempt on my face. I didn’t think so. Akihiko looked good even as a prepubescent child.
“Great.” I frowned, pushing his hands away.
He laughed and everything appeared to sparkle. “Always the brightest of the bunch I see.”
“Don’t pick on him Akihiko, he’s only a kid.” Kotone pointed a finger at him.
I bit my lip and screwed up my hands...only a kid. Akihiko was going to ruin everything.
Akihiko raised his hands in mock defense. “I wasn’t, I swear.”
“Sure,” Kotone eyed him wearily and then broke into a laugh. “Come on, let’s go for a walk around the lake.” She grasped his hand excitedly and pulled him along.
I watched them bicker playfully as they left me behind, not once did they turn to see if I was following. My insides squeezed painfully. They had something that I could never touch and I stared in bitter awe. Is that what she wanted? A man like Akihiko?
“Ken, are you coming?”
My ears perked up like a puppy desperate for it’s master’s affection. Kotone glanced at me with a gentle smile.
“Yeah,” I hurried after them.
The ripple of water was a peaceful symphony. The innocent flutter of birds was a reminder of humanity. I was here, in the flesh but why did I feel so empty?
“How have you been after everything?” Akihiko muttered. "You know you can talk to me."
I dragged my feet behind them. They were having an ‘adult’ conversation, I wasn’t welcome. I was a soggy rag, infested by jealousy and contempt.
Kotone gulped. "It's going to take time, as it will for everyone. I just hope that you're okay. Too often you forget to care for yourself, Akihiko.” Her tone turned serious.
“I'll be fine Kotone.” He placed a hand on her shoulder.
“If you say so.” Kotone looked to the sky with a exhale. "It's selfish but, we deserve peace."
There was a pleasant silence laced with the whisper of the wind and the sound of bird. We all seemed to contemplate it. Us, we deserving peace.
"Everyone deserves peace." It was me who mumbled it; why didn't I believe it?
I was certain I'd never find it. Perhaps I didn't deserve it, like I didn’t deserve Kotone’s love. I was too gone, swallowed by the impurities of my past. They had shaped me into something I wasn’t. Perhaps she deserved better, someone like Akihiko who always seemed to deal with his demons and end up twice the man he was before. Each ailment appeared to fuel him into something better.
It was as if I was slowly, but surely wasting away.