Chapter 12:

A Gifted Gift

Where The Sky Meets The Land

The chilly weather literally poked through my skin as the snow piling up in the streets. I could barely sleep although I had a warmer and kotatsu in my house. Throwing my view off the window, I saw several residents cleaning their house compound. Perhaps it wasn't bad to live in an apartment like mine, so that I wouldn't have to mind about clearing pathways.

I glanced at my wall clock. It was noon, and there were a few visible snow spots have melted. I wrapped myself in my kotatsu, starting to read my manga and resting my body though I haven't done anything laborious. It was a new volume that I bought during my first time visiting that bookstore with Sora. Months have passed since then, but it was the only day I had free time to read it.

My pupil shifted from the manga pages to the wall. I reminisced the day when Sora suddenly asked about what my liking was. I didn't know why he asked so, but it created a chance for me questioning him too.

Then I figured out he liked kids.

How was I supposed to give him kids?

I liked cooking, and house chores were as easy as pie. I was a morning person, and I didn't mind shopping for groceries. I did laundry and I handled everything regarding my household. All those befitted me as a girl instead of a boy, like a housewife. It would be better if I was born as a female.

Then I could give him kids.

I shook my head. What was I thinking just now? I smiled to myself. Why did I imagine myself being a lady? I rolled on my side, reposing on the floor and fixating my view on the white ceiling as my mind flew somewhere I could distinguish.


I smiled to myself. The image of him entertaining the kids still lingered in my sight, as if it was still fresh. He was so pleased to have those kids around him, then I was divulged that it has been his dream to befriend other people.

In my opinion, he lacked the confidence to blend in with other people, possibly due to the strictness his mother has implied on him. It was different to me as a son to a very ordinary commoner like my father. However, I didn't hate my life. I never loathed my fate.

I just loved the way I was.

My first encounter with Sora was weirdly acceptable. At first, I refused to even look at him. He was the first to make a move, which then dragged me to him. Since that day onward, he became my classmate and the one friend that I could call as a partner.

My memory recollection emerged until the previous year before I met with him. I gasped in disbelief when I just realized one thing - my birthday was around the corner. The cold winter did alarm me about the weather, but I had no idea that my birthday was that close.

But I've never hoped for something special during my birthday. My father always gave me a cake, which then I cut and shared it with our neighbours of the same floor. If I had more remainder, I would slice it into smaller portion and eat it slice by slice until it was finished. I didn't like crowds so I never thought of celebrating it in ceremony or such.

Somehow it was different. I had a close friend, someone I could share my laughter and sorrow. The company that I had was way better than whoever I have played with long ago.

I made up my mind. I wanted to give him a gift for my birthday. Was it weird? It wasn't, indeed. I could say it as an appreciation for our friendship till the day I've been living. He happened to be with me, and he was utterly kind to me too.


It was Monday, and we were getting near to that date. I was anxious because I haven't discovered what to give him. My anxiety might be noticeable, but he didn't ask me anything. Perhaps he didn't really care.

Sora's sneeze manageably brought me to realism. I turned to him, while he looked at me in confusion. We met gazes but then I broke the stare first.

He sneezed? Was it because of the winter? I glimpsed at him slightly shivering without a muffler, which was supposed to aid to his warmness. Unfortunately, I only had one muffler at the moment. What should I do?

"Sora," I initiated, "Are you cold? I'll lend you my muffler."

He ogled at me. "Are you kidding me? You're cold yourself."

Did he mean about the surrounding temperature that affected me, or my cold treatment toward other people which affected him? I was taken aback by his indirect rejection, yet I tried my luck. "I just heard you sneezing."

"Don't mind that. It was just pollen."

Pollen in winter? "You must be kidding me, Sora."

His hazy reason caused me impatience that I decided to just wrap my muffler on him without his consent. He would pout, yes I believed that. But his sulking would be temporary. I needed to warm him, or he might catch a cold.

As how I've presumed, he was really upset by my forceful effort. He turned away, throwing his view off the window, and back facing me as a sign of protest. My lips parted as I watched him mumbling to no one, possibly was nagging at me but he just kept it in himself.

How could I neglect the fact that he was shivering? Crossing his arms to his chest, then he curled himself into the chair, were the prominent signs for someone to resist in icy weather. However, he didn't unwrap the muffler and return it to me. Instead of scolding me, he pulled my muffler up to his nose. He leant comfortably in his seat, and I saw him resting his head against the window.

Minutes of silence, I found out he has fallen asleep.

Sometimes, I've been wondering. How would Sora adapt himself with his disorder? Would his sleeping schedule become haywire? How did he end up having it? It must be nice to have a privilege by the teacher despite the hate he had to experience from our classmates.

He had me though.

"Uhh, Riku?"

The lesson has ended, and our classmates have mostly left the class. Sora and I were the only one left unspoken. The boycott by our classmates was worsening, but I didn't fret of it. I had Sora with me, and Sora was comfortable around me too.

He scratched his back of head when I noticed he had a few plasters on his left hand. I was sitting on his right, so I didn't see it earlier.

"Sora. What's with the hand?"

He gasped as I queried him about the wound, hurriedly kept his hand in his pocket. Even when I've spotted it, he still wanted to hide it from me. I sprung from my seat and grabbed it for a closer examination.

"What did you do that you injured yourself, Sora?" I was worried that he might cut himself when he fell asleep at home. "Did you do anything ridiculous back then?"

"No, I didn't!" Sora quickly denied, which relieved me. "I was trying something. I didn't do anything absurd, trust me."

I caressed his left hand, stroking my thumbs along the skin. I rubbed the plasters which perturbed my view, but I could breathe in relax if he didn't really do what I've been afraid of. He was blushing at my tenderness, but he didn't reject me.

"Sora, if anything bothered you, please let me know."

His blushing face got redder as I squeezed his hand a little. He nodded and fidgety. I pasted a small smile to ensure him my treatment wouldn't change. I would always treat him nicely, like how I was.

Weeks have passed without me conscious, not literally but I felt time really flew. Ever since then I always noticed his plastered left hand, and I was anxious the more I saw it. Just what he has been doing till he injured his hand continuously like that. No matter how many times I interrogated him, he would say that he was trying something without telling me what it was.

I believed him. I really trusted him.

The cold almost caught me. Luckily I knew how to make soup, so I cooked it to warm my body up. Ruckus from outside my condo defined the celebrations my neighbours were putting up. My father has invited me to his house, the one he lived in now, but I declined the idea of celebration. I would prefer immersing myself in this condo all alone.

It was Christmas Eve. December 24th has never been my favourite day. I didn't have a mother, and I felt bad for celebrating it with my father. Before he got married, he would never apply for a leave during Christmas. He had the same mind as me though.

I knew the importance of such celebration. The main purpose was to enhance the bonding relationship in a family, or friends, depending on with whom one enjoyed the Christmas Eve. I wasn’t backing off from my stepsiblings – I just could not forget my inexistent mother. People might comment me as a loner who didn’t know how my own mother looked like, but I usually ignored all those comments.

Somehow, I felt lonely.

Ping! A notification interrupted my concentration on the television. I was waiting for my soup to simmer when I heard a notification, thus I picked up my phone and opened it. Two lines by Sora in the message astonished me that I quickly extinguished the stove and fetched my sweater and muffler.

Riku, I’m in XXX Street. Let’s meet up.

It was where my condo located at, which bothered me a little too much. Why would he be here during the Christmas Eve when everyone was practically staying at home with family? I was afraid that he might come alone, and I couldn’t guess what awaited him if he happened to fall asleep before I reached there. I didn’t even lock my door but at least I left my house shut.

Please, don’t let anything befall Sora.

“Riku, over here!”

Meters from the junction, I could spot someone at my height flailing his arm and calling my name. From the behaviour, I could say that he was Sora, and he came by car (…?), noticing the black car behind him. Our distance reduced, and Sora’s clean face coming to my view.

He was chuckling at my hurriedness. “What are you doing? Marathon?” Then he burst to laugh.

Shame overpowered me. Should be so, thanks to Sora’s sudden appearance in Christmas Eve. Auntie Junko got out of the car with her widest smile pasted on her complexion, soothing me because it meant that Sora was accompanied by Auntie Junko.

Then, my relief was instantly replaced with a mild shock when I saw a basket in her hand. I haven’t had the chance to inquire her about the basket when she voluntarily explained. “We’re going to celebrate Christmas Eve at your house, Riku!”

I gawked in disbelief. Surprises kept on coming to me that day, giving me dizziness. “B- But, why at my house?”

“Because if I invited you to my house, you might refuse it,” Sora replied casually, nothing was displayed on his face but ‘You cannot deny our presence in your house, right?’.

The frown on my forehead entangled my brows together. “I don’t mind about you or Auntie Junko visiting my house. But you’re supposed to celebrate Christmas Eve at your house, Sora. It would be merrier. Besides, my house is much smaller than yours.”

Sora’s delighted expression baffled me. Then I was informed why he was so eager to come to my house.

“I want all of us to celebrate my birthday together!”

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