“You’re as pale as a ghost!”
“You’re always so quiet…”
I’ve been told all those things, for as long as I can remember. I was always the cast away. The odd one out. Always one step behind. Constantly trying to be somebody, although I wasn’t.
I’ve been living in an orphanage for as long as I can remember. I’ve never met any parents. This is my only home. My only safe place.
“Misaki is here…”
“She’s always so gloomy…”
Yet, I’ve never felt at peace here. Never felt at home. Everyone would either avoid the gloomy Misaki, or just pick on her. Pick on me. At first, it hurt. I didn’t know what to do. But soon, I grew numb to it. I didn’t feel a thing.
Being alone felt natural. Even deserving. I had come to terms with that fact, and the icy cold feeling that came with it. Both at school, and at the orphanage, I would always find somewhere to be alone. Away from everybody. That’s how it has always been.
At times, it was even peaceful. I felt at ease. Away from their words. Away from their eyes. I could just be alone.
Just like that, I had reached middle school. Warily, and slowly. It felt like I had been alive much longer than that. Time always seemed to drift slowly. Too slow. Something that irritated me to my core. I had nothing to savor after all.
One day, during spring, a small girl was admitted to the orphanage. A young, petite girl, probably primary-school size. Yet, she was only younger than me by 2 years. Like every new kid, she was surrounded by the others on her first day. But she never responded to any question. She just gazed at her feet, and timidly mumble to herself.
Truthfully, I was thankful. The attention was no longer on me, albeit for a brief window. I could do without their comments, even if it was a few days.
Soon though, the attention the girl received, shifted. It became mocking. Malicious. Like a knife coated in venom.
“You’re so short! How old are you anyway?”
“Hey look at her! She’s about to cry!”
“Ha! She can’t even speak!”
The girl was distraught, She didn’t know what to do. She felt…
I knew the feeling. I knew it all too well. It felt so unjust. So foreign. It was wrong, yet there’s nothing you could do.
She will get over it.
Just like I did.
One day she will find peace in her solitude.
I couldn’t do anything for her. Only time could.
Days passed. Even weeks. Yet they never stopped. I was no longer the subject of their torment. I was peaceful.
Yet the new girl… wasn’t. It was almost like she had taken my place.
But I had served my time. I deserved a break. I just wanted to be…
There she was. Sitting alone, underneath the large tree in the yard. It was raining, so I figured no one would be here. This was my spot. The spot I could be all alone. How did she find it?
I could always find another place to be at peace. I can always shut everyone out.
And so I…
Talked to her. I called out. My voice was monotone, like a broken radio. Everyone had told me so. I wonder if she felt the same.
She raised her head to look at me, her cheeks stained with tears.
The girl didn’t reply.
“You shouldn’t care about them.”
Why was I talking so much?
No one had ever helped me.
“I’m talking about those kids calling you names.”
No one had ever reached out.
“They don’t know anything about you. About anyone. They just talk like they do.”
Humans are simple creatures. They rarely get out of their comfort zone. Especially for the sake of another. Why would anyone help me?
“Don’t let them get to you.”
So, why am I helping her?
She must think I’m weird. Talking like that. Trying to help her. She probably doesn’t care what I say.
“Thank… you.” The girl had bowed her head to me. Her face full of tears.
“What’s… your name?”
I found myself asking.
“Shiori…” She muttered. “You?”
I didn’t realize what had happened. Until it did. She was just like me. Quiet. Timid. Unable to speak up for herself.
Before I had I realized, the little girl was always following me around. No matter where I went, she would follow.
At the orphanage, the kids that picked on her had stopped. Turns out my presence had an effect on them. Picking on someone who is alone is always the easiest after all. Picking on two people though, was a more demanding task. Something spineless cowards wouldn’t do. So they didn’t.
Soon, even Shiori felt at peace.
She would call me. I didn’t even realize when she had started to smile. It was quite baffling. Maybe we weren’t the exact same. But… turns out I didn’t really mind.
Her company had become something ordinary to me. Something that was a given. I didn’t even realize the change. I wasn’t really alone anymore.
And just like that, it was weeks, and then months. Soon, a whole year was behind us.
Until one day, that started like every other.
It was a relative of hers.
She had come to take her away. At first, the orphanage had tried to contact any family she had, but it was in vain. Turns out, the family she had, found her on their own. She could very well take her home, legally.
And that’s what she did.
The next day, Shiori had packed everything, and was on her way out of the orphanage. She would live with family, yet she was sad. Crying, she had said her goodbyes to me.
I would never forget the face she made.
Yet, I didn’t say much. I don’t even remember saying goodbye. I just stood there.
Rain poured forth from the sky that day too. Just like when we had met. It was almost ironical.
Shiori. And me.
After that, I was alone yet again. The time I spent in her company felt like a dream. Distant, and fading.
Ironically, it wasn’t the same. I was no longer at peace. It was like I had been tasting something bitter this whole time, not knowing the world was capable of sweetness too.
But when I had realized, that sweetness was gone. It had faded away. I never had the chance to thank her. Nor truly appreciate her presence.
I didn’t want to be alone anymore. It hurt. It hurt more than the harassment. But I gritted my teeth and bared it. It was always like that. I was always destined to withstand. To endure.
The harassment I received at school was still the same. Despite the peace I had obtained back in the orphanage, school was still hell on earth. Yet no one would reach out to me.
One day. It went too far. A bunch of boys from my class shut me in a locker, and left. I broke out, but I came to realize the front door of the school was locked too. What had they done? That was a step too far.
I thought someone would find me. Let me out. It was the last day of school before summer. I could leave school behind. I could write Shiori a letter, and ask her to spend summer break with me. I could leave this life behind.
But I couldn’t. I was unable to. They had forgotten about me. Everyone. Even her.
I was alone. From the moment I was born, until the day I withered away and died. I was destined to be alone. For a time span of 66 whole days I was trapped. I felt my own energy decline. My own body deteriorating. I was dying. And all I was, was just a lonely human being. Waiting. Enduring, Always enduring.
I never got to talk to her again. I never got to see her again. I wonder, has she forgotten about me too?
I wonder, where did I go wrong?
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