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The sky sent down rain as if mourning for her. I heard the cry, but mine was silent.
If I could turn back time, I would skip my work and spend time with her instead. Even for a minute, I wanted to express my deepest gratitude. And asked her one question I'd had for ages.
Why did you stay by my side all this time, even though I was a cursed child?
That question would never come to the light. The flower I placed on her body was a sign of my surrender to pursue the answer.
At this moment, I stood beside the coffin and saw my mother sleeping on it in a beautiful dress. She was a beautiful woman. Yet, not a single person complimented her tonight. They came, said their parting words, and left.
Fifteen minutes later, I decided to sit on the nearest chair. As I walked past the guests, my ears caught something.
"Hey, look at him... Even at his mother's funeral, he acted casual."
"Not a single tear on his face."
"Could the rumors about her son being a psychopath be true?"
Although they were whispering, I could hear them. Some people who came to the funeral assumed that I was the jinx.
They weren't wrong. I shared the same opinion. Even on this day, I was unable to grieve at all. I couldn't feel sadness; I didn't feel loss, nor did there was anything wrong with my mother's death.
Everything that lives will die. A book taught me so. Mother was the same. Everyone should understand such a natural thing. But why did they seem to think I was wrong in understanding it?
I wanted to be honest, they weren't wrong. I've realized the truth; it was me. I was abnormal according to today's society.
Yet, I never considered myself a psychopath. Many people thought that I couldn't feel emotions. They were wrong. I could feel anger, frustration, annoyance, and spite. I also felt happy when my work did well, and satisfied when my mother cooked my favorite food.
Still, I found it difficult to empathize.
Out of all the different types of emotions, I only wanted one. A sadness. Because I still didn't understand why my mother cried for a man, whose face I could not remember. I also didn't understand the tears she shed when I used to get into trouble. Including her screams on certain nights that disturbed my sleep for years.
Her crying and laughter were the two emotions I wanted to understand the most. Because my mother often laughed and cried, sometimes for no reason.
I was envious. To the point that it made me want to go to where my mother was, and then asked her. Perhaps in the realm of death, my mother could explain how to turn the heaviness in my chest into sorrow or she could be more honest to admit that I was the source of all her tears.
And finally, my mother's funeral was over. People went home after encouraging me to stay strong. I understood their words well, but I couldn't comprehend them as anything other than a pity directed at a mere child. They were useless sentences.
When the last person left, I stayed here, staring at my mother's name engraved on the tombstone. In this rain, I didn't know what to do. The cold gravestone just sat and wouldn't answer my questions even if I had.
I sighed and went back home.
After changing my soaked clothes, I decided to clean up the house and rearrange it as before. It took a lot of time, but the result was perfect, similar to what my mother did. Yet, something different. It felt deserted for no reason.
I sat back on my mom's bed and closed my eyes. Hoping that my tiredness would be washed away along with the rain. In the back of my mind, I hoped that all of this was a dream.
Morning came and mother was not here. I got up, left, and closed the door. I stood still, then opened her room once again only to discover the same emptiness.
I had to accept reality. But, this terrible anxiety still lingered and gnawed at me. I wanted to get rid of this overwhelming feeling that kept squeezing my chest.
I took some time to gather my thoughts and then I left for the office after closing the door.
When I arrived at the workplace, the boss immediately approached me.
"Phil, you don't have to come in today," my boss said, "you can take the day off and let your junior take care of the job."
"I don't want to inconvenience anyone, sir," I replied, "the work in my department is already piling up."
Boss sighed. He rubbed his forehead and asked, "What about Milena? Have you heard from her yet?"
"Not yet, sir. I went to her residence but Milena wasn't there. Her parents have also reported her to the police."
"She's been missing for more than two weeks. She's such a talented and hardworking girl. I hope she's okay."
After saying that, Boss left and returned to his desk.
Milena was a junior in the department and I was in charge of her. She had been with the company for two years. Her achievements were quite outstanding and I had recommended her for promotion. However, she refused because she didn't want to be responsible for so many things.
I understood the gloomy look on the boss' face. He had lost someone who could improve the performance of his company. Besides, the rice had become porridge. Now I had to take care of all her remaining work as best I could.
I returned to my desk and started work. For nine hours, I would sit here as usual. Nothing has changed.
I thought everything would be the same. It wasn't.
My work felt heavy and my performance worsened. Seeing my condition, my boss forced me to go home. He kicked me out.
I didn't understand that even though my work was a mess, if he kicked me out then the work still wouldn't get done. It would only be a loss for him.
But, the red ugly face of his, I didn't dare to argue. I did what he wanted. I left and walked around the city to pass the time until nightfall.
I tried to follow the memories of the past that were playing in my head. I remembered how my mother used to give me food at the supermarket on this street. I went in and bought everything my mom had ever bought. There were so many things, even the cashier was confused.
"Are you sure you bought this much, sir?"
I looked at all my purchases and nodded. "Yes. Please count everything."
I walked out of the supermarket with three plastic bags filled with all my groceries.
"It looks like I won't be able to carry all of it." I sighed.
Then, a homeless man offered to help carry my groceries. I let him carry two plastic bags and told him to bring them to his place if he had one. He was confused, but I didn't want to explain and simply walked away.
The night wasn't over. But my steps were already not far from my mother's house. I didn't want to go back there yet. I took a detour to spend the night until the new day came.
I stopped at an intersection. There were two narrow streets in front of me. One was a busy street and the other was dark and lonely.
My steps led me to which way to go.
It was dark and there was not a single human there. I walked while counting how many steps I was taking. Then I stopped and looked straight ahead.
A thought entered my head and asked. This darkness... could it be the same as death?
I didn't understand the question. If all the events were written down in one book, I could read it to understand what I was seeing and feeling right now.
I continued walking in this darkness, and then a spark of light suddenly lit up the narrow path. I heard a woman's scream echoing down the path. I ran to follow the source of the sound and exited the dark alley. At the end of the street, the street light returned.
There I saw five strange-looking people cornering the woman.
Based on what I read in some novels, if I saved a girl who was being attacked by others, I might be loved or fall in love at first sight. Of course, the percentage of the former was much higher. Although I hoped the latter would be the case.
I ran over and threw my groceries at the man who tried to grab the woman. Then I gave him a quick punch in the face and broke his strange mask. Followed by a hard kick that sent him flying backwards.
I told the woman to get out of here. Although I didn't know if she understood my words. From her clothes, she seemed to be a tourist from a foreign country.
Soon, my worries evaporated. The woman nodded and ran off and stayed in the corner. She didn't leave, but at least she wouldn't be a nuisance.
Then I set up my stance and prepared to take down all five of them.
Based on what I saw, these people seemed unwilling to talk. Their strange masks forced me to make that conclusion. The unfamiliar-looking clothes as well as the weapons they were using looked dangerous. A sword at the waist and a staff that emitted a flash of lightning.
Yet, I felt familiar with their appearance. It was like I'd read it in one of those old-school fantasy novels. Wait. Come on, brain. I had to remember it.
Ah! Marry Hotter! No wonder I felt familiar, they must be wizards. Although their clothes seemed more flashy and modern.
"Oi! You bastard! You have nothing to do with this matter, you'd better hand over that woman," said one of the men, though I couldn't tell which one was speaking.
"How about I give you guys some money and get out of here? I don't understand why you guys want to bully this woman? I can even give you enough money to get a woman who can please you for a whole night."
I did not lie. I had saved up quite a lot of money. Even if I didn't work for five years, I could live comfortably. Not to mention the inheritance from my mother, although it was not much.
"Bastard! Do you think we're such losers?"
Eh? Weren't you? Ganging up on a woman with five men. I didn't know if they missed the ethics and norms lesson all this time. Nah, I shouldn't care about it.
Anyway, they rejected my offer. That was strange. Because I thought they looked like young people who had lost their identity and needed financial help.
They were a bunch of losers in the end.
"Step forward." I challenged them.
One of them shouted while running towards me. His right hand grabbed the sword from his waist. Before he could swing it, I had taken two steps closer and kicked hard at his left leg that was stepping forward. Instantly his body lost its balance and I quickly delivered a left hand punch to the lower half of his face.
A loud sound echoed out. His jaw broke.
Then another one came attacking with a sword. I dodged and grabbed his wrist. He tried to break free, but it was no use. I had learned enough fighting techniques against sharp weapons and firearms.
My eyes shifted to the metal object he was holding. It turned out to be a real sword. I broke his wrist and hit the back of his neck as hard as I could. I had no mercy for the scum of society who even went as far as to carry dangerous objects like this.
After taking down two, I challenged the other three.
They hesitated. This was my assumption; but, after the other two fell, they attacked me in a neat formation. Two guys pulled out swords as front fighters, and the one at the back chanted something and made his staff emit the electric flashes I had seen earlier.
They charged in with pretty good coordination. I had to adjust my stance so as not to be out of step while dodging the two sword wielders who were working together to cut me down in quick combos. The third man tried his best to take advantage of the opening by attacking from one side, using a stick that shot two light projectiles at me.
The light projectiles I dodged crashed into one of the empty storehouses and exploded. The loud noise immediately distracted me for a moment. Then I gained a conviction that I shouldn't hold back against them.
One of the sword-wielders swung his weapon toward my neck, but my fist was much faster and hit him hard in the face. His body spun around and landed on a pile of trash.
Then I kicked the chin of the other sword-wielder, who tried to sneak up from behind, and knocked him up in the air. I delivered three hard punches to his neck, chest, and diaphragm while in midair. And I ended up with a hard kick to send him on top of his partner, in the same dumpster.
Next, my feet moved swiftly towards the person who had been emitting the light projectiles. Seeing his reaction when I came charging, it seemed that he had never met a melee fighter with more agility than his comrades.
Without wasting any time, I punched him in the stomach with all my might and disarmed his weapon.
I looked again at each of them. No one was moving. I hoped that no one died or I would have a hard time getting a job.
After cleaning my suit from the blood stains and dust, I approached the girl who was sitting by the electric pole. I extended my hand to her. Suddenly, she panicked and screamed in a language I didn't understand.
Out of the corner of my eyes, an energy projectile shot out as fast as a bullet and managed to pierce my chest. Blood spilled from the hole it created. I tried not to fall, even though all my muscles suddenly numbed. As I turned over, I saw the perpetrator.
"There's one more person left." I vomited blood and then fell to my knees.
"For a mere mortal, you're pretty good," said a man in black robes, emerging from the darkness. "I'm sure you've been studying martial arts and survival techniques for a long time."
"Thank you for the compliment. I'm not interested in hearing your ramblings."
He approached me. At close range, his wand immediately created a ball of lightning. I tried to dodge, but my left hand was stepped on by him.
I roared. An unimaginable burning sensation penetrated my body without mercy.
Before I stumbled, the man grabbed my hair and placed my face in front of his. He removed his mask and revealed the face of a middle-aged man.
"Listen to me," he said, "I'm going to make you my subordinate and–AAARGH!" I bit off his long nose before he could finish his speech.
He struggled in pain and kicked me in the head. I fell and couldn't do anything. My body no longer listened to my commands.
The man approached me while covering his bloodied nose. His other hand placed the tip of the wand on top of my body. He unleashed many lightning balls that struck my body at various points. I no longer felt any pain. I didn't know how many holes had formed in my body.
I was no longer able to hear the voice of the man who seemed to be cursing me. But, he suddenly stepped back while raising his hands. Then a flash of light pierced his head and he fell beside me. Dead.
I laughed, even though my mouth couldn't make a sound.
Afterward, the girl held my head gently and allowed my attention to focus on her. I saw her tears and she mumbled something. I couldn't hear it. Then a pillar of light appeared out of nowhere and looked so majestic.
Could it be the way to heaven?
What a fool. It was impossible for someone like me to go to heaven. Besides, such a place probably didn't exist.
Right now, there was a sense of pride because I managed to save someone else. Yet, I still didn't feel the warmth that people were talking about. Even the girl's hand felt cold as she touched my face.
Perhaps, everything in the novel was nonsense and delusion?
This was not the time to think about such trivial things. I had to focus on taking a breath. Slowly and steadily.
"You can't hurt people, Phil. Even if they come to pick on you," said mother. It was a flash of old memories.
Sorry, mother. I broke the promise.
"Ah, you want more fried rice, Phil?"
Yes, mother. I wanted more.
"Huh? You should take a bath after playing around, Phil!"
"Hey, what happened with this scar, Phil? Did you hurt yourself somewhere?"
I remembered all of it. Every single time, she always smiled and held me close. She shared her kindness with my entire being. A nostalgic feeling. Something that I held dear in my mind.
It was enough, right? I did my best to live. I did my best to be fit in human society. I didn't want to disappoint my mother more than this. I didn't want to break any other promise with her.
Please, before the drowsiness puts me into eternal slumber, let me shed some tears.
For my mother.