@Kuro: Yup, they're mostly flashbacks and I'm not so evil as to prolong the patients confinement or make it worse... or maybe I am.
@MsSmigge: Well she did survive, though how long I'm going to keep her in the hospital hm... Thanks, I try my best to deliver.Chapter 2 - First Encounter
₪₪ It was a sunny afternoon. School had already let up and we were free to do whatever we want until curfew our parents set for us. A group of my classmates invited me to play with them at the new play park that had opened just a few weeks prior. It was a little farther than where we usually played at but it was a new play park and my friends really wanted to go there that day, so I went with them. I remember it was a hot afternoon because not long after we arrived there I was already scouring the place for a water fountain.
As I was looking for the fountain I was also looking around the place. New swings, big slides all newly painted with no rust or peeling paints in sight. It looked pretty amazing in a child’s perspective, and to the nine year old me back then it did. I didn’t think there was anything more wonderful than a new park to play in with my friends. That was what every kid wanted back then, a place of their own where their parent’s don’t call the shots. I always thought every kid in town was there. It was a huge place and there were a lot of kids I didn’t even know there. It was a paradise of our own.
I was so absorbed in the sight of the new place that I forgotten to look forward. Predictably in a crowded place I walked into something and fell flat on my butt. It had hurt, but not enough to warrant a trip to the clinic. I did land on my bum and I was grateful for that. I couldn’t say the same for the girl I had run into. She was on her hands and knees, her form slightly trembling. She was wearing a red dress, one that stopped around her knees, and I knew then that she must have a scratch somewhere, especially when I started hearing the beginnings of the water works.
Getting up I dusted the back of my skirt and proceeded to help her up. She was trying to hold back her tears, her hands wiping away at her eyes. I try to dust her off the best I could, while apologizing, and in doing so I caught sight of her cut knees. They were bleeding.
“Don’t cry. Let’s go find a water fountain and clean that up.” I tell her. She nods her head, her two pigtails bobbing with the action, and hiccupped. I take one of her hand and guide her to the side, away from the playground. I find a water fountain soon after and lead us there. Despite the heat and the number of kids playing you would think that there would be a long line at the water fountains, but there wasn’t one when we got there.
I wet the handkerchief I had in my pocket and lightly dabbed at the wound, imitating the way my mother would treat us whenever my little sister or I got injured. She had gone silent by then. I could see her watching me through my peripheral vision. Her face was smudged with dust making the tear streaks visible and she was biting her lower lip, keeping them from trembling.
After making sure the wound was clean I fished around my bag pack for the band aids my mother put in, in cases of emergency. I find them in one of the inner pockets and gently plaster them over the girl’s wound. Thankfully the cuts weren’t big.
“There, all better.” I tell her and smile, just like what mom would do after she treated us. “Does it hurt anywhere else?” I ask. She shakes her head.
“Hey, I’m really sorry. I wasn’t looking to where I was going. Can you forgive me?” She nods her head. I smile in relief.
“Wait here.” Standing back up I go back to the water fountain and rinse my handkerchief. When I deemed it clean enough I walk back to her. She was still seated where I left her, staring at the band aid. I crouch down beside her and begin wiping the dirt off her face. I do it gently, like my mother taught me, cupping her face in one hand while the other lightly wiped the dirt off.
When I was finally done I was feeling very hot and tired and I realize that having looked after the girl I had completely forgotten that I was thirsty to begin with. Saying a short good bye I go back to the fountain, greedily drinking up every mouthful of water I could get. I take a handful and splash some on my face. I was taking another handful when I feel a tap behind me. I repeat the act once more before I step aside for the next person. To my surprise it was the girl, I thought she would have left after I went to drink water.
“Thank you… for taking care of me.” She mumbled.
“It’s no problem, it was my fault anyway. I couldn’t let you go without making sure you were alright. My mother wouldn’t be happy with me if I did.”
She looked up at me, her frown slowly turning into a smile. She looked really cute with a smile.
“Ai-chan!” I hear my name being called. I look to the side where I find my friends waving me over.
“My friends are calling me. I guess I’ll see you some other time.” I tell her as I wave back to my friends. “So, good bye.” I say as I stuck my hand out.
She nods her head and takes my hand, shaking it slightly. “Nice to meet you…”
That was the first time I met her. Of course, back then I didn’t really think I’d be seeing her again. Like I said it was a huge place and there were a lot of kids there. What were the odds that I’d be there when she was? True we didn’t meet again at that park, there was a park closer to the school and that’s where we played most of the time.
The next day, during recess, I along with my friends went down to the court yard to play ‘Daruma-san ga koronda’. I wasn’t a great player, but it was unusual for me to be ‘it’ unless I was chosen. That day I was assigned as ‘it’ on the first game. Other kids joined in, that was how the initial five players became sixteen. I counted.
“Okay!” I shout back and turn around to face the tree we set up as base. “Daruma-san ga ko-ro-n…da!”
I turn back to the group of kids and begin pointing out the one’s I saw moving. I repeat the action again and again, gathering a number of kids chained to me when I caught them moving, until I felt the break of the chain I had when someone finally got close enough behind me. I hear the thuds of feet on the ground as the group scatters and I swivel around and shout “Stop!” and every player freezes. I scan the place, looking for the nearest person and made sure I take wide steps, no more than three, and tag the next ‘it’ and the game restarts. I was getting in line with the rest of the players when I caught sight of a familiar face and her twin pigtail moving back towards the school.
“Ai-chan, the it’s over there.” I hear a voice mention and a tug on my sleeve.
“Huh? Ah, yeah. I’m going to… get a drink. I’ll play the next round.” I say and start heading towards the school. It doesn’t take me long to find the pigtailed girl, she wasn’t walking fast. I quicken my steps until I was right behind her.
“Hey.” I reach to her shoulder and give it a short tap and she turns around.
“Ah… Onee-chan from yesterday.” She says and points at me, eyes wide as almonds.
I grin. “It’s Ai.”
That was the second time I met her.
She was a year below me. She transferred just recently, that was why I’ve never seen her before the park incident. I tried to get her to play with us, but she shakes her head, pointing to her knees. I forgot they were scratched and blushed slightly.
We met up again during lunch, she was eating alone, too shy to get along with the other kids. I kept her company throughout the rest of the period and the day after that. Days passed and she got the courage to talk to her other classmates, got along pretty well with them too. But every recess we always found each other, away from our usual group. We would sit under the shade of a tree, keep each other company and talk about anything we can think of. It was one of those little wonders of being young, being able to make friends easily without worrying over anything like thinking about reputation and such. There weren’t a lot of things that mattered except that she was my friend and I was hers and we liked each other’s company.
I think I may have forgotten what it's like to be a kid...that or I had a really suck-ish childhood
That was so hard to write >.<