Chapter 21:

Sweet Innocence

Blood? Suckers!


Baka. Baka. Baka.

What was that idiot even thinking? Honestly, I’m searching my brain for some kind of meaning to his actions, but I find none.

Just tell me I look nice once or twice and that is all!

I come to the pinnacle of the walk to school, the one major thing I’m able to do all by myself, my very own self. This is time for the self-independent Neve, my grown-up arc!

What is the pinnacle you ask?

Every second step is covered deep in lava, it oozes through its own respective zone, and it is my job to jump over it with every step - lest I die a painful death.

I understand that in reality, I will suffer no harsh consequences for touching the tiles I have deemed lava, nevertheless, my body cannot help but avoid them as if I’m being controlled by some strange third party. Every fibre of my being detests the idea of stepping on said parts of the pavement and therefore I cannot, I must not.

Sigh.

Such antics leave me in a strange place where even I am unsure of my age or how I should be acting. Facade upon facade until I become an ooey-gooey mess of masks, behaviours, and strange voices.

Where is the real me?

Hello? Neve, open up!

Show us where you are for god’s sake.

Pick up the phone.

And I get nothing. Great.

Despite the current game of life and death I am playing with the relatively ordinary floor, I find myself skipping down to school. A pep is in my step as Bell would say!

How would anyone react to this strange dichotomy of dark atmosphere, strange thoughts, and happy exterior, were they to know?

I’m so glad no one can hear my thoughts.

Anyone listening to my thoughts: Stay out! Ya hear?

Yes, that should do it.

Hop, skip, jump.

Get out of your head Neve.

You’re going to live life like a regular girl. You’re going to go to school, join a club, make friends, and live the rather carefree life of a child. The things you’re going to worry about are going to be trivial, like getting your homework in on time and how you’re going to introduce yourself in class.

There is no one in your head, there is no one after you – those are not the fears of a regular elementary schooler.

Notice the trees, notice everything going on around you; the light-grey pavement, the slightly busy morning rush of cars down the road. Notice the tall greenery behind the solid walls that line each house and estate you walk past.

I brush my hands past the walls as I feel each texture. The coarse bricks of red walls, all strung together by the rough texture of cement. After that, it’s the harsh feeling of concrete walls, a stark comparison between the beautifully laid out wall from before – it’s cheap and lacks any sort of personality.

I think about a time when I have my very own house and what kind of wall I would pick that defines me and my personality – what kind of person would people think I am based on the texture of my walls.

I feel an unrelated unease wash over me, quickly followed by the sound of footsteps getting louder and louder behind me.

With each footstep, I hear the pant of exhaustion as my heart sinks further and further into my chest. I feel like I am being pursued.

It’s fine, Neve. This is the street; anyone can walk here.

The footsteps encroach on my position.

I start to turn around to see who is coming but as I swing myself, I feel the bag on my back being hit by a heavy force, spinning me down onto the ground.

I feel dizzy.

My knees feel raw and grazed as I get my bearings.

What was that?

I look around to find a woman on the floor next to me, grunting in pain.

She’s pretty and young; she looks about Hiro and Bell’s age but is a lot shorter in stature. Maybe it’s the very elegant outfit of blue and gold with matching hair ornaments that gives off the aura of maturity.

Wait, Neve – why are you analysing how she looks?

I’m floored – not by the beautiful woman to my side obviously, but literally, I am on the floor.

“Are you okay? Oh god, oh god.”

In an instant, the lady awkwardly gets to her feet and comes over to me.

“Lava everywhere.”

I don’t really know what to say as I rub my eyes, trying to get a better look at everything. All I know is that I have been plunged deep into the depths that lie between the safe tiles.

“I’m so sorry, are you hurt anywhere?”

Her eyes haphazardly search over my body, looking for any sign of injury.

“Neve fine.”

I smile and gaze back up at her. My knees do hurt, but there’s something about her klutziness that takes my mind off of it.

The lady extends her hands towards me as I lay on the floor, helping me get to my feet.

“I’m so glad, Neve. I really should be paying better attention to where I’m going! I’m so sorry.”

The lady apologises again as she lets out a forced chuckle and scratches her head.

I’ve seen these types of people while watching anime with Hiro; she’s the total airhead type – stay around her too long and you’ll find yourself in a whole load of rather inconsequential trouble.

“That uniform! You must be going to Akebi Elementary!”

Is this uniform that obvious?

I look up at the woman and cock my head in confusion.

“Don’t worry, I’m also going there too. It’s actually my first day believe it or not and I’m running really late!”

Okay lady, slow down. This is just leaving me with more questions. You’re a freaking student? At an elementary school?

Something is out of place here.

I feel as if my head is tilting further and further to the side, eventually I’ll lose my balance and just completely drop to the floor at this point.

“My first day of teaching and I already run into a student as I rush to school.”

Run into? More like run over…

She pushes her fingers against her temple in frustration, berating herself for her current behaviour.

Relatable though, I feel this.

Bringing her attention back to me, she holds out her hand yet again.

“My name is Lili, nice to meet you!”

I take her hand and smile.

“Neve.”

“Well it’s nice to meet you, Nev-“

She looks down at her watch.

“Oh crap, I am going to be so late! Say, Neve, did you want to head to school together? I don’t want to make you late too so we will take a shortcut!”

She seems innocent enough, I know she thinks she is going to be looking after me during this trip to school but a part of me wants to stay with her to make sure she doesn’t get into any more trouble.

Or like, hit any other kids.

“Okay!”

Grabbing firmly onto my hand, she leads the way with her light-purple hair flowing behind her in the wind.

Abraham B. A.
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Blood? Suckers!


AkuaSenpai
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