Chapter 28:



“After I reported Kiri’s whereabouts to her mother, it took no time for the authorities to find her and bring her back home. At first, I thought she would retaliate or run away, but Kiri was surprisingly lenient when she knew that she could no longer escape. However, that did not justify me calling her behind her back. I still betrayed her trust. You’re going to tell me this, and I know that you will, so insult me because I deserve it fully.

But I digress. Following Kiri’s settlement back to her home, her mother realized that her daughter was not happy to be living in the same house as her. Along with the fact that Kiri did not have a good reputation at her former school, Kiri was sent to a boarding school to avoid contact with her previous peers, and from this have a new foundation in how she wants to set out her life.

Or at least that was what was intended. Even though I did something so wrong in our relationship, I know that Kiri needed someone to talk to, and so I occasionally meet her. We could still converse, but it wasn’t nearly the same as always. What was considered fun and strangely exciting was now eclipsed by the awkwardness and guilt suffocating me. And it wasn’t long before talking to her felt like a chore, and it was probably likewise for her.

…So, one day I decided to stalk her, I wanted to know what her life was like here, what fun she had been hiding behind our conversations. However, it doesn’t exist. Kiri just live through the day, study, changed classes, walk back to her dorm, eat, sleep, study, and repeat. And as if she was an entirely different person, her bright demeanor had gone to the grave, leaving only a black mob surrounding her. And it seemed to drive people away, and she was lonely.

I had failed myself, and I failed her. And you too, Alice. That’s why I’m asking you to come meet her yourself with me, I’m desperate, and it’s shameful of me to ask someone to fix my mistake. But I need your help, and I know you will do anything for Kiri.

I know this might have seemed insincere and nothing but shameless begging from me, but I just don’t know what else to say, all I care about now is to help her.

That’s the end of my long summary of what happened, and also a call for help to you. I hope you truly consider.”

I’ve skimmed through this message over and over again, and my thump fiddled just above the send icon probably a million times already. But never have I gained the courage to actually send it, and to avail could I stop reading the message as well.

“Hey Stan, how long are you going to stare at that phone.”

A voice broke me out of my trance, and I looked up to involve myself back in reality. I was in my classroom and four people whom I was familiar with were eyeing me dubiously. Finding the need to respond, I disclosed my mouth.

“Well, I’ll stop now, what are you guys talking about?”

“Well, about you man.” The hippy guy replied. And right after, Mary-Beth spoke.

“You’ve been different ever since that girl Kiri was found. The two guys told me she’s your childhood friend, so I guess it might be weighing you down a lot. You could always like, share with us, let it all out. It will help you feel better, Stan.”

“Yeah, your two friends really want to help you. Let them know your insides.”

But before the BL lover girl could carry on any of her degenerate fantasies, Mary had smacked her head.

I chuckled for a moment and responded to Mary’s kind words.

“Thanks, guys, but it’s kind of weird to talk about it. And I don’t really know what to say anyway.”

The four didn’t speak another word and only looked at me with slight concern, which did not bother me. I found myself glancing back down at the overlong message but decided to finally put it away.

Guess I’ll tell her in person at my boxing class

That was what I had planned, however, the fact of the matter was that it would not be possible. Since when I came to the gym today, neither Alice nor her girlfriends were there. Though, rather than feeling disappointed, I was met with a sense of relief, and I acted out my regular class activities.

It all went normal, with no anomaly in my sight. And in no time, I was already at the brawling section of the day.

“Hey, uh, Stan. right?”

Usually, my opponent would not talk mid-fight, so I was a bit dumbfounded at first. Regardless, I still replied to the tall-figured man before me.

“Yeah, that’s my name. Whassup?”

“Oh, uh, nothing. I just thought you looked different than usual.”

Jesus Christ, not this again.

“Look man, thanks for your concern but I’m here to do boxing to change all that. So, if you don’t mind.”

“Yeah, yeah, sorry dude. Just checking up on you. You look like the usual fun guy so I was a bit worried, you know.”

He in fact did mind, and his punches felt lighter than normal. But it’s not like I can confront him about it, so I laid that thought alone and continued until the class ended.

I went home that day with a feeling of unfulfillment, and I could not shake it off. Depressingly, it continued to gnaw at me even in my sleep.


As the first ray of light pierced through my room, I jumped out of bed with high hopes for a new day. And a new day did come, a day filled with the lingering feeling I could not shake off last night that is. Disappointed, and perhaps even quite irritated, I spent all that energy preparing myself to go to school.

I sprinted, but nothing changed. I talked to people, but nothing changed. I took notes, but nothing changed. I played basketball with Wa Ghy U and his team, but-


But before I realized that the ball was no longer in my palms, the stealer had already done a layup and scored.

“What the hell Stan? You’re distracted again.”

Following Wa Ghy U’s complaint, my brain finally registered what happened, and I tried to save face.

“Oh, sorry, just thinking about something.”

“Is it related to why you look so different lately? Does it have to do with that girl Kiri?”

My fucking god not again-

Wait, how the hell did he know?

“Who told you that, Wa Ghy U?”

“Oh, your friends just asked me to talk to you. Saying that you look like you need help and this is just my opinion but, you really do look like you could use some of that.”

I exhaled, and I didn’t know why I did. If anything, I should be happy that they are showing care toward me, yet, at the same time all I felt was shame.


The sound of the ball contacting the surface abruptly met my ears, signaling both myself and Wa Ghy U to shift our attention back to the game.

“Well, tell me about it sometimes, Stan. I’m your friend, but I guess you already knew that.”

I merely nodded and set my eyes back on the ball.


“You were saying?”


As I looked back to my left and saw Kiri beside me, once more did reality drag me back.

We were sitting on a bench situated in a way that we could see Kiri’s whole school ground. Apparently, this was one of our casual meet-ups.

“You were talking about how everyone’s treating you differently than normal, and then something about you appreciate that but it’s annoying regardless?”

Just as Kiri helped me recall, a weird feeling told me to shift our attention toward something else.

“Oh, yeah, it’s nothing really. Just a dumb little high school drama-”

“C’mon, Stan. I know you’re still feeling guilty about me, there’s no reason to hide it.”

A tick surged through my body.

“Well, what do you expect me to feel? I didn’t act out the exciting life that you wanted, and after I betrayed your trust as well, it was all for nothing. How can I not feel terrible.”

Following my impatient tone, Kiri only glanced her eyes to the side.

“Nah, you did the right thing, Stan, all I wanted was to have an irresponsible life. I mean, we should focus on our studies and goals, right? Only that way would we get a future where we can be even happier than the meaningless chatter and dumb activities we used to do. It’s time to grow up, you made me aware of that, Stan. And I’m no longer escaping away.”

But that’s…

“But you’re not having fun now, and that’s what I promised you.”

However, only after the words had been spoken out of my mouth did I realize that I should have never said it. Why was I the one complaining when I was the one who chose this path for her? How much more damage would I continue to do to Kiri? How much of a fucking asshole would I continue to be to fuck up more of her life.

Suddenly, the girl beside me stood up.

“You know, Stan. You’re not obligated to come here to check up on me. So, if it bothers you in any way, just know that I’m fine with being alone.”

And she walked away. And I was left alone for the thoughts and doubts to tear me apart.

It was clear what she had intended by that statement, and even though a strong urge made me want to repulse at it, I knew that it was only reasonable to sit still. We were both mutually not fond of the idea of meeting each other and torture ourselves with awkwardness and pointless arguments. Hence, there was no real reason for me to indulge my guilt anymore.


Days and days after that, everything went on as normal, and normal included that same feeling of unfulfillment. I still kept up with my hobbies, as well as my studies, but either way, none of it could distract me from the underlying uneasiness.

My meet-ups with Kiri turned more infrequent by the week until I no longer spoke to her no more. Yet, my guilt was still gnawing at me, and I still stalked her once or twice to find out how she was doing. However, nothing changed, and nothing would ever change.

It went on and on, and even though my life had all the things I needed, I was not happy. And so, I started to deepen myself in the fantasies that I was missing. Memories of the time I had with Kiri started becoming clearer and clearer, from our childhood to the ones that we had in that fateful week not long ago, they brought me a sense of comfort.

But not before long were feelings of pain. These moments were long gone, and like rubbing salt on a wound, they reminded me of the total contrast between what fun we used to have and our estranged relationship now.

I was the one who ruined it, no one but me. And that thought haunted me every time I shut my eyes, night after night.

Then, it might have been happening before I realized it, regardless, one morning I noticed that eyebags began to form under my eyes. And even though the sight was tormenting, my gaze continued to scrutinize the sad depiction of myself.

Oh, I’m just the same as back then.

But before that line could even hope to emerge once more within my mind, a flash appeared, and a graphic illusion made me fall back.

Terrified and confused, I glanced once more toward the reflection in front of me, but my face was no longer in the mirror.

What met my eyes was an image of a boy, perhaps a year and a half younger than me with his head down into the sink, and his own nails so deep into the surface of his head that a few crimson blemishes flew in my vision.




Never-endingly, he repeated. It was as if his whole entire being was devoted into the chant, caring nothing at all about the one escape that he told himself that he needed, and what came out was nothing but an empty husk. Yet, he was content, for his wish had indeed worked, no matter the cause that he had paid.


That was just a lie he had convinced himself. He was not glad that he had forgotten those memories that brought him pain. And he knows that now, and never again will he make the same mistake.

And so, I walked out of my bathroom, and even though I felt relief, I knew that it had meant nothing. Since when I went to my school that day, everything stayed the same. I continued to live through my days and days, and it all felt the same.

I was not fulfilled.

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