It’s true… Sure, I’m sorrowful for Camryn’s past. But I just can’t bring myself to make her my top priority…
My top priority is Ren Morales, my goddamn best friend… I’m going to save him…
“Yeah. You know, the girl you met a month ago. The girl you took in a month ago… The girl that was homeless…”
I stared deeply at Ren’s anticipating face… Honestly, my face is scarier than usual, but that’s the point — it just shows that I’m dead serious.
“The girl… that you saved…”
He suddenly slammed his hands on the table and stood up.
“I don’t know anything about her!”
I pinched my chin with my thumb and index finger.
“Oh, you’re so worked up when you’re usually so stoic. I wonder why…”
I stepped forward, but I managed to keep my calm behaviour.
“Hey Ren, you wanna elaborate?”
“The girl ran away from me… But it’s whatever! That girl is just a homeless stranger that I was showing decency to! Why should I care about her!? We’re not related or anything. Why should I care!?”
“Oh, so angry… But whatever…”
Anger… Like how Valerie did, you’re using anger to protect a decision. But you don’t usually get angry… Then that means…
I shrugged my shoulders…
This decision was forced onto you… Aren’t you using a greater force to protect this because it’s someone else’s?
“You know, it’s funny you say that… Camryn was found.”
As soon as I said that, Ren’s disturbed face slightly lightened up. His jaw slightly dropped, and his back became a bit straighter.
“Hm? Eh, whatever… Right now, she’s under my care…”
Ignoring the illogicality of this? How strange.
“I see… Well, I’m glad she’s okay…”
“Yeah… And she’ll be much safer… when I send her to the orphanage…”
Ren suddenly got out of his seat and walked up to me. He stared at my seemingly proud smirk in disbelief.
“W-What did you say?”
I raised my voice.
“Are you deaf or something? I said I’m sending her to an orphanage!”
There’s no doubt that Camryn developed some hostility towards these types of facilities.
“No! You should-”
But Ren stopped when he suddenly turned around.
“What!? Is the orphanage just not the ideal place? Well, how about the homeless shelter? Maybe a soup kitchen? Or maybe we should just send her to the police! I-”
Ouch… I was suddenly stopped when Ren swiftly spun around and punched me in the nose.
But Ren slowly lowered his fist and turned around again, looking at the ground.
“S-Sorry, Connie… I don’t know what that was just now…”
So energetic a moment ago, but so meek-sounding and professional right now… I tilted my head and covered where he punched me.
“It’s just that… Well, she might be resistant if you send her there. You see, I suggested bringing her to those types of places when I first met her, and she disagreed…”
“Eh? Who gives a damn about that?”
He propped his head up.
“It’s for her own good!”
I raised my voice again.
“As you said, we shouldn’t care about her! You know, just show that decency by sending her there and nothing else!”
He quickly turned around again and punched me.
“Oof, that seriously hurt Ren… But why the hell are you getting so worked up for, huh!?”
He was aggravated.
“As you said, she’s just a homeless stranger! You hear me!? She’s a weakling! An abandoned failure that no one wants! A freak! An idiot! A reject! A monster! Why the hell should we-”
But another punch disturbed me.
So powerful… Another punch to the face — the force knocked me down to the floor.
He mounted me and started rapidly punching me in the face.
“Shut up! Go to hell! Go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell! Go to hell!”
I stared at him through the blood in my eyes… His eyes were seething with rage. His teeth were pressed together in fury. He held up another fist, and it was clenched with madness.
He then slammed his hands beside my head.
“Because none of it is true! Yeah, you’re just spewing nonsense! Idiot!”
“You haven’t spent the past month with her, so you don’t know a damn thing!”
“You don’t get to say anything!”
Instead of a punch, Ren sat up straight and wiped his eye.
“Dammit… She’s not a freak! She’s not an idiot! Nothing about her is monstrous! Why the hell would you say something so mean and so wrong about an awesome girl like her!”
He gripped his right shoulder with his left hand.
“She… She’s none of the things you said! She’s scared… but she’s brave! She’s hopeless… but she’s cheerful… She’s weak… but she’s so goddamn strong! She’s trying her hardest, and that’s what makes her a remarkable person… So why did you say those things!?”
And Ren suddenly winced and screamed in pain… He quickly got up, gripping his right shoulder with his right hand again.
I slowly sat up…
I watched as Ren stumbled back in pain. He then threw his coat off and ripped off his right shirt sleeve…
And there it was — my eyes widened as I saw it… On his upper right arm was a large scar… So red… So wide… So long… So… knife-shaped.
“Why’d you have to give me that request!? Take full responsibility for the girl… Dammit Connie, why!?”
He spoke to me through the immense pain. He leaned towards me while gripping the scarred shoulder.
“You don’t know… You don’t know, but I’ve been through hell because of you! Every day, my arm hurts! Whenever she talks to me, it hurts! Whenever she gets near me, it hurts! Heck, whenever I even see her, it hurts! That girl’s been nothing but a pain to me!”
But I saw Ren straighten up, look down, and clench his arm harder.
“But even so… Even though I should get the hell away from her, w-why do I want her so bad!?”
Awe spread on my face. I tilted my head.
“Why do I always think about her? Why am I always anxious when I don’t know where she is? Why was I so sad when she ran away from me? It makes no freaking sense!”
A fully got up.
“Connie… Please help! I don’t know what I’m thinking anymore… and I’m so scared!”
I walked up to him and he turned to face me. And there it was… his tearful face, among the uncertainty in his face.
I softened my voice a bit, but I still sounded slightly tense.
“You love her… and you feel good when you’re with her… But at the same time, you feel you should hate her… and you want to feel terrible when you’re around her…”
“Well, one sensation obviously outweighs the other!”
I put my hands on his shoulders…
“Am I right? When you’re with her, your arm stings while you smile widely. And when you’re away from her, your arm feels fine, but you’re frowning…
I was sounding desperate now.
“Please! Really think and tell me the truth, Ren!”
I was supposed to sound angry, but I got emotional.
“Yes! It’s true!”
“Then tell her that! If that’s the truth, then let her know that! You need her… and no one will stop you! Please, love and care for her with all your might! If she lightens every aspect of your life, then keep her! Because you love her… And it’s because she loves you!”
I lost my composure… But oh well. Honestly, how am I supposed to focus on anything else? This is my greatest chance… To be real… To feel a connection… To get my best friend!
Silence… But after a moment, I broke from Ren.
“Um… Bailey’s bringing Camryn here tomorrow…”
He was still looking down, but I couldn’t see his face. But I saw that his right arm was twitching. He was in pain, but he was not acknowledging it.
“Um… Camryn will be worried if he sees you like this. So you should get some sleep and take a shower… And don’t worry, Bailey called work for you and said you might be absent…”
His voice was so low… Despite screaming earlier, it sounded like a mumble…
But that’s all I could do right now… If I tell him anything further, I fear things will change. This realization has to be caused by him, and only him — I only supplied a little push.
Although my face stung due to punches, I slowly walked to the exit.
But I turned around again.
“Oh… And good night, Ren.”
“Yeah… Good night, Connie.”
I slowly turned around and started to walk again…
But I stopped for a second before I continued walking. And, a smile of hope was on my face.