Chapter 1:


Whens and Whys

"And take up this Goddamned controller while your at it! This room better be clean by the time Gerald arrives!"

And with a small smack to my head, she stormed out of the room like the agitated elephant she was.

"Bitch." was what I let dive underneath my quietly swimming breath.

Any louder would have me getting launched out of her house. She just wanted a reason to forfeit the moral obligation fate forced upon her.

Taking care of the orphan of her deceased mother's coma toast fiancé. Sometimes I felt that she did it because the guilt wouldn't allow her to live within his house without taking on his burdens.

I used to hear her tear down the walls to get my heart running. She then would boil down the stairs, into the bathroom and out the door with whichever spouse she had chosen to entertain herself with at the time.

But now I realized that it was all in my head. The imaginary box I trapped myself in that I allowed others to dub as "The Now."
















What does it mean to move forward? Does it mean using your step to push yourself out of the current reality to a better one? Or to drag the same reality with you hoping it will be better?

"Jeez! When are going to stop this? Aren't you tired of getting your ass busted?"

"S-Shut up! And I didn't ask for your help!"

With both my bloodstained hands shoved into my pockets, I watched him push her off as she tried to administer make shift first aid with her handkerchief riddled with petal patterns.

And who was she? I thought I knew based on something that I didn't know never existed at the time (the past). She changed with the moment.

"Ah, screw you then! Go get your ass cooked and fed to you for all I care! And as for you Tolo!"

Her tone of voice changed as she brushed off the grass that stuck itself to her skirt before flicking him off and running over to grip me by the collar.

This was exactly what I meant. In a moment's notice she went from being a rose's loving petal to its prickly thorns.

"Calm down. We were just about done here anyways."

She punched me square in jaw.

"Don't you tell me to fucking calm down! The principal has been hot your ass for awhile now and instead laying below the waters you just keep welcoming trouble wherever you go!"

I eased her hands off my collar and walked away clicking my teeth.

"So your just gonna avoid me again!?"

"H-H-H-H-Hey y-you bastard w-we're n-ot done here!"

I didn't even look to see what their thoughts were as I distanced myself from beneath the bridge. I knew that he'd live this situation almost completely out of memory and that she'd have my tailbone.

This is reality after all.

"You know, if you don't work on that attitude of yours, things will never change. I think you're well aware of that but still prance around anyways."

"And you know what they're saying about you, right? That your some old flame that wouldn't let yourself get put out; some wet sock that I couldn't get rid off. Are you sure that you want-"

"Oh look at you stressing over the minds of others! Probably there's hope for you after all!"

This is how it was. I'd throw her a hint at her identity in our relationship and she'd dodge it while wagging like the happy tail she was.

We'd go back and forth like this until I was before my front yard again.

"AAAAAAnndddddd now you've finally gotten rid of me. Watch some friendly body language videoes to help kick start your transformation. No rest for the wicked!"

"Prfft! Bite me. (We'll see about that)"

Would be the end of our back and forth with me verbally fanning her off into the distance, hoping she'd stay longer.

This was because as soon as I made it through the door, up the stairs and was to slightly open my door....

"Mmmmmh- Oh! Didn't I tell you to knock!"

" this is my room."

"Do you allow him to talk to you like that?" I didn't know who it was rallying her on this time.

"Sigh..let's get outta here. Find yourself something to eat and don't stay up too late doing homework or whatever."

Were her last words as she trailed out of my room and into the neon colored night leaving me in a house without a cooked meal.

I'd gotten used to it. I've even gotten better at hiding all the money I saved up usually from shaking down punks at my school or from what Zillina would lend me. This was incase she ran herself dry and came into my room searching or for when she had forgotten (now for instance) to restock on grocery for us (mostly herself) with Dad's pension.

And now she's just gonna allow someone who probably hasn't even been in her life for more than a couple weeks drag her out of her responsibilities and into the night. He'd then bring her back by its end completely knocked up and drunk for me to deal with.

Sometimes the guy can give a hand, but from seeing my reluctance to even mention that scenario speaks to how often it is the reality.

I kicked off my shoes and dive bombed back first into my bed as I pondered all of this. Stretched out on the mattress, I inhaled deeply and shouted-


Before calling my newfound breath to calm myself down into whispering quietly--

If only it didn't have to be like this.

And just then I saw it.

My ceiling evolved before my eyes.

It at first looked industrial, like the inside of a cooperate building.

Then it went completely dark.

And finally it flashed to hard concrete with the sound of rushing water before returning back to normal.

"What the-"

And before I knew it I was laying on a sheet of grass looking at the same concrete as before. I turned to see if my ears were fooling me and I was severely disappointed.

There was indeed a rushing river almost right next to me and I was indeed right underneath a bridge. Before I could even question this particular development, I began to be plagued with a violent assault of thoughts-

Why is he that much stronger? So much faster? So much bolder? So much colder? So much more preferable? What do you see in him Zilla? Why do you always try to protect him? Why doesn't it feel like your protecting me even when you act like you are? Why can't I beat him? Why can't better than him?!

I slammed a hand into the surrounding grass with the other covering my face as I erupted into tears. As I bawled uncontrollably, my thoughts resumed.

No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No

I sat up following this. And saw it. Up a little further up the field of grass, there was a bedroom. With a bed. And he was laying there.

I jumped up and started walking towards him.

No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No

I jumped on the bed and pinned him down.

No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No

I grabbed him by the throat and started squeezing.

No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No. No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.NoNo.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No. No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No No.No.No. No.No.No. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! YOUR THE PROBLEM TORUMARU! YOU! IF ONLY YOU DIDN'T FUCKING EXIST!

I squeezed. Squeezed. Squeezed. And squeezed. Just as his neck was about to snap-


His sister and her friend came and ruined it.

I was being choked by the punk I beat up earlier and my sister with her spouse barged in just in the knick of time.

My eyes rolled into the back of my head and I had began foaming out the mouth.

My sister's spouse wasted no time kicking him off me and pinning him down then shouting to my sister "QUICK! SHEELA! THE POLICE!"

"R-right!" She managed to pick herself up with her already buckled knees running downstairs screaming "Oh my God!" possibly every step of the way.

All while it everything was happening the punk had the second strangest reaction to all this (first being Sheela). His face and body as they were being pinned down were saying the same thing as I looked at them with my wavering vision.

What is going on?

Sheela ran back upstairs saying with her quivered voice:

"T-T-T-T-Th-e-ir on their way! T-T-T-he police and a-a-mbulance!"

"Babe calm dow-"

She wasn't having none a that. She shoved him off and ran over to me with tears streaming down her face melting her makeup.

"Please! Please! Please! I don't want to lose anyone else!"

It seemed as if Sheela was similar to Zillina in that she could change in a moment's notice. She went from thorns to the petal in a matter of moments.

In my fading consciousness, I quite liked it.

As I drifted back into consciousness, I saw it again and was sure of it this time.

The same industrial lights as before. I couldn't have cared less about that poorly made contraption though. I was more concerned with the girl crying by my bedside.

Poor thing. I stroked her hair in an effort to comfort her. She didn't budge. I instead tried to use words instead.

"Sheela, my dear child, If you keep leaning towards mopping for every brick wall you run into you'll make a miserable wife someday."

"How *Sobs* could I *Sobs* not? Especially...*Sobs* when they have you wired up like this?!"

I looked briefly at the cords connecting me to the noisy contraptions that they said would help keep me alive. I then disregarded them completely.

"You have to try. You need to be strong for young Toru here." I looked to the child sitting a fair distance away from me drowned in the contraption his father bought him.

"You even need to be strong for him as well."

"I DON'T WANT TO! *Sobs* ... I DON'T THINK I CAN BE! E-E-Especially not to him! He scares me...."

"Because you allowed him to frighten you. You have to be able to sit with situations until you can walk away from them."

"*Sobs* but I-"


I shouted in a cold sweat frightening the young woman holding my arm tightly with both of hers as her forehead pressed tightly into them. She had also been mumbling to herself moments before.

"You're...You’re!..." she said in shock before embracing me tightly then kissing my forehead.

'"Glad to have you back kiddo." said the man leaning on the wall further to the back of the room. It was her spouse.

The spouse of the petal; Sheela that was embracing me.

"Oh! I'll get him a drink of water downstairs! You, watch him until I come back!"

"Hehe. So I've been demoted to "you" now,huh? I forgot how fast her hierarchy of priortizes can shift." the man laughed at her as she rushed out the already cracked door almost mindlessly.

"Hard to believe that she came home because she didn't feel comfortable in her outfit after seeing the hot mess that this situation had turned her into."

"W-What happened here? Where's-" I bragged in on his ramblings inquisitively.

"Don't worry you've made it past the worst. He's been detained and brought into custody. The investigators decided that they'd get to the bottom of it when you were in better shape under the advice of the paramedics. I have a few questions I'd like to get answered myself but I'll pick at your brain when it's healthier. For now I'll look around the house for any clues."

Just when he had finished filling me in, Sheela came back with the drink of water.

Her spouse exchanged positions with her leaving the room as she entered. I sat up in preparation for the water.

As she fed me the water as if I were her suckling, she asked while sitting beside my stretched out legs with a worried look on her face:

"Your only making this harder on yourself, child! Tell us what were your motives for doing what you did and we can come to a compromise of sorts. So that we can make sense of the red that you almost got on your hands."

"I already told you! I-I don't know! I'm not sure?" I responded already up to my neck with pressure.

"What's the matter? Does your throat feel hoarse?" she retorted whilst gently fondling my neck.

"No it's not that! I'm not playing dumb at all! It's just..... that in this situation......I kinda am."

"Sigh, ok I really guess that getting you some rest really is the best play at the moment."

She finalized to herself before easing off the bed to direct me to my cell.

As I went in, I noticed someone sitting by my study area. A man not that much older than 20 in appearance.

He sat there reading deligently and didn't seem to have been paying me much attention so I left him alone.

A conversation finally emerged between us after about 3 hours of me just lying there. I asked him out of curiousity:

"How do you go on? How do you sleep and wake up realizing that your gonna be in the same place?"

"Hmph! Out of all the questions I was prepared to have to deal with..the answer's quite simple actually. I just realized that this was always how its been. It's just that it took me being placed in this particular situation for that fact to boldly stand out. The fact that all along, it was my mind that really prevented everything from seeping into one. That everything that happened before I had been living through subconciously, that everything that was happening presently I had been consciously experiencing and that everything that I had told myself was supposed to happen I had unconsciously wished for. When you let down those walls, everything kinda just flows peacefully. Making it easier for you to accept everything."

"Huh.... Is that so?" under the facade of my pondering response, I solemnly agreed with him and even empathised with him to some extent. I began to think that we weren't that different at all. That this jail cell felt no more silent and lonely than my bedroom. That nothing had changed because everything was always changing. Everything always felt changing and since that feeling never changed everything felt the same. Me getting used to all of this only added to the fact.

I also felt tired as I thought about all this.

The next day, I was being lowered into the dirt with my hands clasped by my stomach. My eyes were supposedly closed but I saw everything.

Everyone crying, even the boy that no longer was immersed with his contraption and the girl I had told to be strong not long ago. She was being comforted by my husband though. With his fragile hands that had weakened with age. He held her like he used to hold me. As if she were his lover.

If I could be replaced to easily then,

"What was the point?"

"Hey Tolo, you good? I'm surprised that you even managed to come to school today with all that happened so if your still not feeling up to speed and forced yourself to come regardless then your not fooling any-"

"No it's not that. I'm fine it's just that.."

"I completely understand. It was a big shocker for everyone. Having a bit of trouble processing it myself despite how it seems. I'm just glad no one got seriously hurt."

"I love you." I saw her heart fly up to her eyelids.


"...just like that he probably said it."

"What the hell are you on?!" she again had me by the collar.

"Do you remember him blurting out those words to you?"

"Him?...Oh. Not that I know off. It happens often enough to where you kinda don't remember who it's happening with, ya know?" she loosed her grip slightly as she released where my mind was at.

"Did you give them all that same reaction as just now?"

"ARE YOU TRYING TO GET YOUR TEETH KNOCKED IN?!" she now had a fist at bay in preparation for my follow up response.

She finally sighed and withdrew herself altogether as she realized the bottle of juice she let spill all over the floor during all of this.

"It's not like that. I just get asked out a lot and I'm waiting on someone I already had in mind."

"Oh. I hope he catches a hint." I felt a rabid beast slowly lock on their stare on me by the end of that sentence.

"Okay! Okay! I noticed for quite some time now it's just that..."

"Ohh so you were giving me the cold shoulders because you felt entitled to my feelings,huh!?" the feral beast began to crack its knuckles in preparation to maim me.

"I've been thinking about my answer....a lot actually. Its just become much harder to think lately. So much things are happening and everything feels so fragile. It could just all be in my head though."

She didn't interject so I carried on.

"Plus other thoughts have been popping up in my head." to which she answered, "Like...."

"What if I had the same feelings; if I was still me but someone else. Would you have still cared for my confession more? Or would it just become another one of the faceless, anonymous ones that would vanish from your mind as soon as you heard it?"

She fell silent for awhile.

"You don't have to worry about that because ...of course your you. At least that was how it seemed last time I checked." I got my answer. That "sincere" smile as she titled her head speaking after a long pause told me everything I needed to now.

That I ,basically, in her eyes, was lucky to be me. And I knew what I'd be in her eyes if I that wasn't the case.

Suddenly, someone--or rather a group busted through the door we took to get up to the school roof.

They were some guys all with familiar faces marched down to our spot crowding us with their forcefully meancing shadows.

"Oh! Poor Toru-Toru, are you feeling wokay?" said one with a tone coated in high-pitched mockery as he stared down at me. A chalk-full of spit splashed onto my face and into the lunchbox Sheela made for me.

The one that was yapping seemed to be the ringleader. Though I wasn't actually touching her, I could feel the radiance of Zilla's anger in all its intensity.

Just as she was about launch at him and steal a piece of his jaw--

"What's your name?" I placed my hand on her leg and asked my question.

He snapped and bashed my head into his healthy knees.

"STOP ACTING SO COCKY! WHAT CLOUD DO YOU NEED TO BE ON TO STILL HAVE THAT ATTITUDE IN THIS SITUATION!" by this point the bash had forced me to roll off the bench and into the tiles.

Zilla finally launched onto him before he could stomp me out but that only stalled him temporarily. He quickly broke free of her grip and threw her to side for his underlings to restrain her. Her thorns only seemed spiky from afar as when you came face to face with them, they weren't that much tougher than her petals.

He then positioned himself directly over me to resume what he was trying to initiate before. As he rose his foot, I slapped him on his remaining anchoring leg toppling him on the spot. I galloped intermidiately to tackle him as he fell, pinning him down on the cold tiles in my place.

"Argggh!" he groaned.

"I'll repeat myself again. What. Is. Your. Name?" I whispered into his ear voicing my annoyance with my knee pressing into his back and my arm bending his behind him.

"Arrgh! What does it matter now- hell when did that ever matter to you!" he shouted while groaning in pain.

"It didn't. But that was then. Now is now."

"Oh, so now your saying that now is all that matters? So what about back then, huh? Back when everything was cool? Back when my cousin was on his way to a scholarship? You know, just before you bashed his skull in with those brass knuckles when you couldn't shake enough cash off of him, HUH?!" by the end of it he had already broken down into tears.

This threw me off slightly causing me to momentarily loosen my grip.

"NOW!' was the signal one of them gave before they all rushed in.

















A violent wave of attacks rushed over me leaving only bruises and swellings behind. One blow in particular, which landed squarely in the back of my head stayed with me.

"And your saying.....please correct me if I misheard...... that you sustained that injury as you defended the girl from the bookshelf and not the other way around?"

"Yes, that would be correct, young officer."

"So how do you explain her attire as well as the marks around her throat?"

"Good heavens! Have you no sympathy--no patience in your hearts when dealing with a damn near senile man fighting on his last leg to recover from such a grave injury!"

"That's enough Palmie. My memories around that time are strangely vague..uuh...if you gentlemen could atleast give me a moment..."

"No need, Mr. Hagima. We could wait until tomorrow to continue the questioning when you've recovered somewhat. If you could please excuse our insensitivity."

"Nonsense. You are simply carrying out vows you've made for this great country. Lift your heads high." and with that, I was able to hush the baboons out of the room.

This gave me sometime to think. But this was all in vain. The whiteness of the hospital ceiling reflected my consciousness.

That was just before Palimina, the young suckling I kept at the breast of my fortune as I thought she'd be useful, interrupted whispering while pretending to cry by my side:

"What should we do? If your convicted they'll seize all your hard work!"

"We keep maneuvering until we find a way out. Sadly I had neglected to plan much for this. That child had always been so obedient up until now, never would I had imagined something so sinister would hatch from such an adorable, tiny egg."

Yes, opening my arms and expressing my gratitude to the young meal I took under my wings had become so ritualistic. Even more so now that there were no longer any real obstacles between us. At first I though of her as baggage but turns out, she was the real prize all along.

I knew she wasn't as expressive about the fulfillment she felt at times but never would I had imagined she would've grown bold enough to lash out at me like this.

Ungrateful. After all I'd done for her.

" this really were..!" I quickly shifted my head in response to the strange sentence I heard escape from Palimina's lips. Her tears no began to seem genuine.

"ALL THIS TIME SHEELA HAD BEEN SUFFERING AND YOU.......!!!" she had vapourized out of her seat and launched herself at me.

The shock this caused led to my heart skipping a beat. She was still talking but her voice felt distant. So did the sensations that helped me to move my arms and legs.

Or even to blink.

"Wakey Wakey."

Zilla had slapped me out of my paralysis by slapping my bruised face. I was not at all thrilled by this.

"What Dad's condition.....was that nurs-ME?...But how...and......and......" completely drenched in sweat, I ran over the thoughts I had. I lost a bit more of my composure with each realization, until slowly I started shaking.

Shaking. Shaking. Shaking. Shaking. Shaki-

I was having a seizure. Foam again ran free from my lips as I vibrated on the cold concrete of the school's roof until-

Zilla embraced me. "It's okay." But it wasn't. Up until now I hoped, with all this absurdity that it could be. I really did. But it couldn't.

This was terrifyingly abnormal. Even her embrace. She was caressing a man suffering from epilpsy as if he were a lost pup. As if she had secured me from danger.

This was yet another slice of reality uniquely self-served.

Unbeknownst to me, perhaps as a merit of prestige, my uncertainty was somewhat quilled causing my condition to deteriorate back into a box of pseudo normalcy.

"I....honestly....that's just..even from you!..It's alot to soak in ya'know..even more to go one step further and expand your realm of believability just for it to fit in nicely. It kinda makes your other lines of logic feel like their crumbling when you pair them together with this.. if you get what I'm saying!"

Ah. Seems my lips slipped into self explanation. To think that she's actually considering all of this. She must really think highly of her opinion to be worth a damn as a point of discussion.

I might've confided in her based on the perspicacity she's shown in the past. But then again.. those were grounded scenarios. They always had some level externality to them as well. Whenever something infiltrated our circle, she would always get devoured by impulse.

"Maybe this is my punishment."


"Believing that everything revolved around me. I had everything framed for it to seem that way. My own cross weighing me down, my own form of escapism and my obligations. I failed to realize that these were all people. People I used for justification to expand the size of the fuck the universe perserved for me to the point were it even absorbed some of your own. I probably did it because that framing made things easier to look at. It made them more approachable and understandable."

Deep down, I'd always known this to be the case but sometimes, simply knowing isn't enough. It wouldn't help to change a thing. It would just work to painfully frame and cull things down into perspective.

Everything would be constricted to a delicate but slightly unnoticed truth. So small, even I'd walk right past it.

Whens and Whys