PRICES GO UP AT THE GATE
Written by Chris J. Cinders
Edited by Clear World
Chapter 1: Dancing Leaves in the Wind
Snow pelts violently against the window as I watch all the kids frolic around in the snow. All of them seem to be having such a good time. Although one girl was crying after getting hit in the face with a snowball. All it took was some hot chocolate to make the child smile again. I wish I got to have that kind of childhood. They all look so happy, so full of life. I never got to leave this hospital bed. It's a unknown to me just what lies beyond that white pelleted door, and just what kinds of people are in this world besides my caring nurse and understanding doctor.
I smile to myself before coughing into my fist. My throat burns intensely but I don't really mind. At this point I've grown used to it. I've long since adapted to being sick. A brown haired nurse enters into my room. She stares at me with her motherly hazel eyes, "Ryou, how are you feeling?"
I give her the best smile I can manage, it's a small one. But it's still a smile, "I'm fine."
This nurse, Ayano, has always been like a mother figure to me. She's the one who raised me for all of the years I've been in this hospital bed. She places the soup she was carrying on my bedside table, "Here I made you lunch."
Soup, my favorite meal. I always feel unusually cold. Maybe it was because of my illness? But soup always made me feel better.
I pick up the spoon and hold it flimsily in my hand. Dipping the spoon in the piping hot liquid, I scoop up a portion and send it into my mouth. It sends a warm and soothing taste to my tongue. It somehow feels almost nostalgic.
Ayano smiles warmly at me, watching me enjoy my delicious soup. "Oh by the way, Ryou. There's someone here who wants to see you."
Her words catch my attention, so I look up from the soup bowl. Shortly after I do so, a blue-haired woman enters through the door. Just what was outside that door anyway? I hadn't the slightest clue. To me, what lies beyond that door was as unimaginable as what distant galaxies were for everyday people.
The blue-haired woman makes her way over to me and places her hand on my lap. This woman standing before me is my mom. I don't really know her all too well though. She is always busy with her job so she visits me two times out of the year. In truth, the nurse felt more like a mom to me than she did. But this woman was still my family and I still loved her nonetheless.
"How are you doing, Ryou?"
I give her my usual small smile, "I'm good. And how are you mom?"
She just stares at me before answering. I can tell she's trying to hold back her tears. Maybe because she never got to see me grow up? Or maybe because she just missed me? Maybe both? But she is definitely a strong woman because she didn't let her tears win the battle. "I'm good too honey."
"And what about Hana?" Hana from what I was told, was my younger twin sister. Though I never met her in person before.
"She's just fine." My mother smiles proudly. "She's even the class representative."
I have no idea what a class representative is. Like I said the outside world is a myth to me. I cock my head, "That's good right?"
"Yes. Yes it is honey," my mother says while patting my blue-haired head. "She's even got straight A's every year. I'm sure you would've too." She then turned to my nurse. "So is his condition getting any better?"
A solemn look crosses over Ayano's face. "On the contrary Hamasaki-san, I'm afraid it's getting worse."
"What?" My mother's voice raises to the rooftop. "What about all of the treatment you are giving him?"
"None of it appears to be working," my black haired doctor, Rin answers as he comes into the room. He adjusts his rectangular glasses. "I'm sorry to say this, Hamasaki-san, but Ryou-kun only has about six months to live."
Six months to live? No one ever told me about that.
Had it been any earlier than this, had I not already become tired of sitting in this bed for years and years on end, had I not come to the realization that I was never leaving this hospital bed, I might've actually cared.
But even if I didn't care whether I died or not, my mother certainly did. She was speechless for a while.
Eventually though, she turns to me. "Ryou, I'm sorry." She was still desperately trying to restrain her tears. Was it for my sake? Because I have already cried out all my tears long ago. She places her delicately warm hands over my icy cold ones. "If there is anything you want, anything you need. Tell me. And I promise I'll get it for you."
Anything I want or need, huh? But what was there to want? I didn't know much about anything to ever actually care about wanting something. Soup maybe? A new pillow? Sheets? I stare out the window once more. All of the children were running inside a school building, playfully racing each other.
It was then that I realized there was one thing that I wanted. One thing that I've always wanted. More than anything else in the world. I look at my mom, my purple eyes pleading for her to grant this one request. "I want to go to school."
"School?" Ayano looks at me worriedly, "I don't know if that's a good idea, Ryou."
I was saddened by her response. I lowered my head and clutched my sheets, "Why not?"
"Because you're already sick enough as it is. You don't want to risk making it worse, do you?"
"Risk what? It can't get any worse." I look my Mom square in the face, "Please just let me do this one thing. It's the one and only thing I want."
"Ryou does have a point." My mother says. "But I won't be around enough to take care of him."
"Hm, yes that is a problem," Ayano continues to converse with my mother.
"But I think I might have a solution."
I await anxiously to hear their answer. Nothing else mattered to me, not so long as I hear the word, yes.
"Okay Ryou," my mother says to me after finishing her conversation. "Let's go home."
"That's right." She gives me a kind smile, "So you can get ready for your first day of school."
I grin so widely, the edges of my mouth lifts into my cheeks. I get out of my bed in a rush, leaving it a ruffled mess. My feet touching the floor is a new feeling for me. As strange as it may sound, it feels like pure bliss. But I struggle to maintain my balance, I wasn't very used to walking considering I haven't done it in years.
But I'd say I managed fairly well. I make my way up to the door.
For many people a door was just another thing in their way. A simple obstacle they could easily overcome to get on with the more difficult challenges and lovely moments in the day. But for me, this door was a portal. It was a portal to another dimension, where I would get to see just what lies in that unknown galaxy known better as the rest of the world.
I place my hand firmly on the metal doorknob. It is incredibly sleek and shiny. I take a deep breath before yanking the door knob back. Much to my disappointment, the door didn't open. Why won't it open?! I impatiently yank the knob back over and over again, and still no success.
I look back at my mom and Ayano, "Is it locked or something?"
"No, you have to twist it. Not pull on it," my mother informs me with a gentle voice.
"Oh." I face the knob once more, this time twisting it. And as the door opens, I can see the light. The light of my future, of my new life. Of what this mysteriously beautiful world has to offer. My new life starts now. And I couldn't have been any happier.
I plant my face against the window as I ride in the passenger seat of my mother's car. All of the birds flying in the sky look so incredible. The way they flap their wings so majestically. I've never seen such an amazing sight before. I roll down the window and stick out my head. I sighe in enjoyment as I take in the cool winter wind sweeping my sleek blue hair back and forth.
I watch in awe as a dog runs, dragging it's master by a leash. Such wonderful creatures are scattered all about the world. I can't believe I have been missing such amazing opportunities.
Eventually the car ride comes to an end as we reach my new home. I'm kind of upset about the ride ending so soon though. I still want to see all of the other wondrous things the world has to offer.
I come across a small furry creature nibbling on an acorn before I make it inside. The way it eats its snack with great care and passion amazes me. It looks so cute, I just have to see it up close. It savors its little acorn as I walk closer to the furry little fellow. I carefully kneel down and watch it with a smile.
It gives me a strange look and holds its acorn closer to its body. I hold my hands up, letting the animal know it has no need to worry about me. "Don't worry, I'm not going to take your acorn." I rub its head gently as I get back to my feet. "I have to go meet someone now. But I hope I'll get to see you again tomorrow."
I wave goodbye as I walk inside the fairly small wooden house. The house is actually pretty barren, save for one picture of my mother with a little girl hanging along the wall. There's a small stove in the kitchen just ahead. As I get closer to the kitchen, I notice a girl with long shiny and sleek purple hair. Her back is turned towards me, so I guess she's immersed in her cooking or something.
The smell of whatever she's cooking is delightful. A trail of steaming hot scent tickles my nose and my mouth drools. It smells even better than soup!
"Hello?" The purple haired girl turns to face me and her blue eyes light up when she sees my face. "Are you, Ryou?"
"Yeah." I nod at the girl. It is pretty obvious she was my twin sister. I've heard so much about her by now, but I decided to ask anyway. "And are you Hana?"
She just nods before running at an incredible pace and hugging my waist tightly. "I'm so glad I finally get to meet you."
I've never been hugged by anyone before. So this feeling is awfully new to me and I don't know how to respond. She feels warm and soft like a stuffed animal. It's a rather soothing feeling. I wrap my arms around Hana awkwardly, "I'm glad I finally get to meet you too, Hana."
It is at this moment I realize just how enjoyable these next six months are going to be. I am finally getting to live the life I've always wanted. And with the family I always wanted. And as I continue to embrace Hana, I look out the window and watch a leaf with a frosted tip float about endlessly in the wind. If only I could be that leaf and never fall.
"I'm actually a masochist."
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