Chapter 19:

Chapter 16. Little Celebration

Another Story [Hiatus]

Today is different. It is my first ever end of the week. It is called a weekend in my previous life but apparently no one uses that word. It might be because the weekend is flexible; the job, school, or employer chooses what the end of the week is. For the students at the school, it is after the third section meeting. The length of the end of the week is also decided by the school, in our case, it is two days. Bookmark here

I am readying my sets of clothing for when my visit to May's place. I do not exactly know where it is, but she handed me an address that seems to be close to the central plaza of the town, where Olen first dropped us. Most likely a great place to have a house, I suspect. Especially if you are an employee of the school nearby.

I choose a set of clothes that aren’t too heavy. I chose to leave my school uniform at the division house, as I think I will be coming back here by the day, before the start of the new week. I put all the spare clothes in a sack.

The rest of my division also seems to be busy this end of the week. We discussed our plans during dinner last night. Jayde plans to help out at their restaurant. Mimi intends to go back to the palace. Mia is going to be at her family home as well. They all seem to be getting ready at the same time as I do. I hear all their jabbering of clothing and other items through the walls of the division house. They are all so excited to meet their families for their first time while at school. Of course, some of them might have been in a collective or were homeschooled, but I never heard of any school for people younger than sixteen.Bookmark here

I can't wait to see May after not having seen her for a while. After having seen a fragment in a nightmare a few days ago, I feel like I need her more than usual. I think I want to give her a good hug. Although, she might tell me to hold it off for a bit because others are watching.Bookmark here

Sometimes it is so frustrating that I am a man in this world. Some people attach expectations to being a certain gender. I know I am not that brave nor am I that strong. Sometimes, I cannot help but have an identity crisis. Who am I? What am I? I ask all these questions to myself and the answers seem to be voided. May seems to have accepted me for who I am, though. She always holds me tight as I let out my cries of indescribable pain. A pain that only she seems to understand. I do not feel the same as other people, sometimes. Some people even give me a second glance. It must be because I do not conform to these gender norms. I cannot help it. I have never fallen in love as well. It is a word I do not like to associate myself with. Love is so mysterious and scary. Even the phrase itself is scary, falling in love. It hurts to fall; therefore, it must hurt to love. I guess love has been forced onto me so much that I do not want any more of it.

I suddenly awake from my musings, realizing that I haven't really done much packing. I try not to think about things too much. I have the tendency to overthink. Probably dangerous to some aspects.

After packing my clothing and readying myself, I have to say my farewells to the rest of my division.

As soon as I leave the room, I see the three of them apparently waiting for me to finish packing.

"You took too long!," Mimi says with an annoyed look on her face, staring at me carrying my sack, "We have been waiting for you."

"Oh, I am sorry. I dozed off a little bit," I replied.Bookmark here

"It's fine, It's fine! Let's go!," Mia seems to be ecstatic. I cannot blame her. She must miss her family as well. Knowing her, she holds them dear to her heart.

"Jayde, are you ready?," I ask, as he seems to be deep in thought.

"Ah!," he seems to be surprised that I am talking to him, "Yes! I was just thinking about a recipe."

It seems that we are leaving the building together and will be splitting up along the way. We have a nice and friendly chat in the hallway. Their enthusiasm is as bright as always. Apparently, Mia is going to tell her parents all about the interior of the clocktower. Jayde wants to tell his parents that he is serving food to a princess every day. Mimi wants to relax and 'detoxify' herself, apparently.Bookmark here

Now that we discuss it, I do not know exactly what to talk to May about. It never occurred to me what I want to tell her about. Do I tell her that I solved the first mission? Well, I do not like to sound as if I am bragging. Do I tell her that I had a small fight with one of my division mates? That would be somewhat cliché. Am I overthinking again?Bookmark here

I am probably just excited.Bookmark here

But as soon as we have left the building, it seems that Mia is leaving for a completely different direction than the three of us. Mimi also seems to be picked up by a regal carriage, drawn by two beautiful white horses.Bookmark here

"Bye-bye!," Jayde and I wave towards them as we take our leave. They also wave back. I guess I am left here with Jayde.Bookmark here

I try not to stir up the awkwardness, but I just do not know what to talk about. How does one exactly engage in 'man-talk'? Our last foray into such kind of talk was not so successful because all I did was just agree to whatever he was just saying; occasionally laughing. Mundane topics tend to bore me, because I always feel like topics run out fairly quickly.Bookmark here

Finally, he breaks the chain of silence, "Well, are you excited?," he asks simply. A good opener, in my opinion. He starts to pace himself towards the square at the end of the street, in the same direction as my current destination. I asked him earlier where the address is, and he told me that he would show me himself, because it is just along the way to his house.Bookmark here

"I am excited. What about you?" I do not know exactly how to reply to that.

"Well, yeah of course! I cannot help but think of all the dishes I am going to try and cook during the end of the week," he replied.

I laugh at his enthusiasm, "I see. We will get a taste of your newfound ideas on food with our next meal, then!"

He seems to be very delighted. We continue talking about mundane things. I find out he likes the color purple, not because it is the color of the Yttrancia flow, but because he says it is relaxing and a cool color to look at. Our conversation continues for a while. Nothing too deep was discussed. 'Man-talk' isn't that bad, I guess.Bookmark here

We appear to have arrived at the place. The street looks like it is a very busy place. Many vendors have set their stalls on the sidewalks and leave just enough space in the middle for carts and carriages. "This is it, Aura," Jayde points at the building in front of us. A terraced house, similar to his restaurant. It also has quite a similar color scheme. This one, though, has a different door. The door of this one is painted green and has stained glass windows neatly decorating the top section. "I have to go now; I hope you have a good time! I will see you back at school!"Bookmark here

"Bye!," I wave.Bookmark here

Jayde makes his way to their restaurant, disappearing into the crowd. I stand in front of the house, not quite how I will approach May.Bookmark here

Do I approach her with affection? Should I just give her a hug right away? Should I say hello? I do not know what to do. I feel like I can't move before I come to a conclusion on what I should do. Do I wave at her? Do I try to hide and make her think that there was actually no one and then surprise her? So many things are going through my head. I am so nervous, but why? There shouldn't be anything to be nervous about. But still, I cannot properly get this gush of irrationality out of my head. Bookmark here

The black, scruffy crow leering at me angrily on the roof, only increases my feelings of confusion. My mind drifts off further towards the green vines seemingly trying to reach the roof of the house, crawling along the rain pipes, but just coming up short. It feels exactly like I’m feeling right now. Like my mind is crawling towards something that it cannot quite reach.Bookmark here

It is only when I see a figure in the top window of the place looking at me suspiciously that I realize how much time I spent just standing there dozing off. The silhouette of the person brought a sense of familiarity to the mind. This figure vanishes quickly, though. I try to regain my composure and gather myself. While I was dozing off, the door also opens. To my delight, it was indeed a figure of familiarity. A figure that brings my heart a sense of relief and comfort. A cradle to relax on. My day already feels amazing, even though it is only starting. The figure is May.Bookmark here

"Aura!," she calls me. "What are you doing there? You look like a statue!," she laughs. A very beautiful sight. Oh, how I miss seeing that ーthe lavish smile, her cascading black hair, her plump cheeks, and the motherly aura. I guess I am home. “Come here!”

I make my way closer to the door where she is standing. She seems equally delighted at the sight of me. Without further ado, she grabs on to me and gives me the biggest and warmest hug I have ever received. One cannot possibly describe the warmth I feel in my heart. "I missed you," she whispers into my ear.Bookmark here

"I missed you too," I reply. She leaks out a smile and then lets go of me and leads me inside. She opens the door wide for me to enter. Bookmark here

Once I have entered the place, I cannot help but notice that the door is quickly followed by a staircase going upstairs. The hallway to the staircase is not that big, one can stretch his arms and touch each wall. The staircase is as narrow as the hallway. To the left of the hallway is a door to a room, which seems to be the main living room of the place. I quickly realize the size of the place we are now in. How could she afford this? Do maestros get paid this much? I cannot believe my eyes. The hallway is decorated with a few paintings on each side of the wall. And the staircase is covered with a red carpet. I cannot help but take off my shoes as I enter the house. It seems that it wasn't needed, though, "Oh, don't," she points at my shoes. "Keep them on," May informs. I quickly let go of my shoes and then shove them back in place. "Why don't we go upstairs?"Bookmark here

"Okay," I say as I follow her as she walks up the red-carpeted stairs. As I catch a glimpse of the second floor, I see a few more paintings on the wall of another hallway leading to a room on the right and another set of stairs on the left. On the wall, next to the paintings, is a door that is painted white.

"Here, I have a surprise for you," she says while carving a smile on her face. "Since we haven't really celebrated it properly." She leads me to the white door. And as she opens the door, a sweet smell permeates through the hallway. A sugary smell. When she fully opens the door, I realize that the smell is coming from a cake. A cake decorated with marzipan and candles lit on top. The cake stands on top of a fully decked table, with four chairs surrounding the table. The atmosphere of the area is very cozy. The room seems to be a library, but I cannot see for sure as it is already sunset and everything is dark, only to be illuminated by the candles of the cake.Bookmark here

"This is-" I cannot end my sentence. I do not know how to react.Bookmark here

"Happy Birthday!" she greets me in her sweet voice.Bookmark here

I never had a cake for my birthday in this life. Let alone eat it with someone. I cannot help but shed a tear. I feel it gently flowing down my cheeks. I do not know how to react to this properly. Oh my god, I think to myself. My mind goes blank a short while after. May seems to be very jubilant, though. Her face is carved in a sweet smile. The very smile I admire. "Sit down. Let's eat it!," she invites me to eat as she pulls back a chair for me and later another for herself. I sit down on the chair she pulled out, which is opposite to her own chair. After I admire the cake for a moment, "Blow the candles! The candles will soon melt if you take such a long time, you know," she laughs again. Her laugh is so contagious, I couldn't help myself but laugh as well. After calming down a little, I try to make a wish: I want this to last forever. I blow the candles to which she claps, "Happy Birthday! Yay!," she congratulates me once more. This is already far more than what I wished for.Bookmark here

"Thank you. . ." I gently say. I do not want to ruin the subtleness of the atmosphere.Bookmark here

She smiled and then starts to talk, "I heard all about your performance during your mission. I am so proud of you!"Bookmark here

"Thank you. . ." I cannot help it. I cannot find any other words in my mouth.Bookmark here

"How are you?," she asks, probably trying to get some other response from me.Bookmark here

"Than-" I started, but I realize, "I am alright, I just don't know what to think at the moment."Bookmark here

"I know that you probably have a lot of questions in your head right now. That's alright."Bookmark here

"Yes, I do. It's hard to comprehend all of the information flowing in my head," I honestly say. "Like sometimes, I feel like I don't know you."Bookmark here

"I guess this is the right time to tell you about the time before I met you, then," she says gently. We sit there with glasses of water, relishing the cake she bought for me. The taste is sweet and fruity. I do not know what will happen next, but I brace myself for the truth she is going to present. I try to stay quiet so she has time to prepare her mind as well.Bookmark here

A little while later, she starts her story. . .Bookmark here

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