I don’t remember exactly when I met him-- he just randomly appeared one day from absolutely nowhere. He came in riding on a motorcycle, a green Ninja 650r, and blocked off where I was walking home. He wasn’t aggressive or anything like that, but that did not clear him of my suspicion at first.
I tried to ignore him at first by going around him, but every time I tried, he would either backup or move forward to stop me. He was persistent, which got on my nerves. All I wanted to do was go home, eat sukiyaki, do some homework, and then get some sleep. But with him in the way, that wish was surely not going to be granted anytime soon.
In this boring town, life was always ordinary. Things never happened around here. That’s how I had come to like it, a life with no changes. I was sick of changes ever since he left us. Now, I had an idiot trying to get my attention and changes things again. I did not want that. All I wanted was to go home.
His name is Takeshi Haru. He was a lot older than me, clearly already out of school while I am just a middle school student. It’s not like the age difference seemed to matter very much to either of us, however. Age is just a number we have. Beyond that number, there really was not much to worry about. That’s how I viewed it, at least. Things like that were understandable in my head-- everything placed into my own individual logical viewpoint.
“Do you like sweets?”
That was the first thing he ever said to me. He had jumped right over the introductions, going ahead to instead ask me a question. I frowned at that, but part of me was compelled to answer him. So, making a decision right there and then, I nodded.
“Hop on. I’ll buy us some ice cream.”
To say that I trusted him would be an overstatement. To say that I distrusted him would be an understatement. I was on middle ground-- in between decisions. Throwing caution into the wind for once in my life, I got onto the back of his motorcycle and put on the helmet he gave me.
While driving on those crowded streets, I found myself not caring what could happen. I did not care that I had my hands wrapped around a complete stranger that could even murder me if he wanted. Because, at that point in time, I was free.
Free from everything.
Life, stress, school, family...
All the binds that constricted me just seemed to melt away. Was it because of him? That I did not know about. If it was him, then a part of me only wanted to keep him close and not to lose him. He became my escape. This random stranger that came out of nowhere and into my life was now my own personal escape.
He did what he said he would, no tricks or strings attached. He got me an ice cream and himself one. They were both a swirl of chocolate and vanilla, mostly because having to decide between the two was completely ridiculous. We sat together on a nearby bench, not saying much of anything.
“So, what’s your name?” He broke the ice.
“Suzuma. Jun Suzuma,” I had answered without glancing over.
“Suzu. Got it,” He gave me a nickname without even asking. I did not mind, but it seemed a little sudden. He asked me basic questions and some odd ones, but never went past my comfort zone. He did not touch me, did not wrap his arm around me or hold my hand. Apparently he wasn’t the type to move quickly psychically, but the way he came from nowhere and approached me made me think about him more. He was strange. There was no avoiding that. Yet to place him into a category did not fit him. He was several things at once.
“How old are you?” I asked him on impulse.
He said it like it didn’t matter. To him, it probably didn’t.
“I still go to middle school,” I swayed my feet back and forth, as if in time with a metronome.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” He looked over at me, but my stare was directed at my feet as they came in and out of my line of sight. “Hey, your ice cream is melting. Hurry up and eat it before you wreck your skirt.”
“Okay, okay...” I muttered, licking the not-so-frozen treat. He leaned back on the bench, putting his hands behind his head.
He drove me home after that. Of course, by that time, it was late. He helped me take off the helmet and chuckled at the helmet hair that the head wear had given me. I only sighed and shook him off. He smiled, a soft kind of smile that made me want to join in.
He wished me a goodnight, and I returned it.
From that day on, as if a daily, ordinary thing, we met each other. We exchanged important and not-so-important information. We told each other our stories that we had to tell. Well, really, he told his. My life was ordinary like this town, and there was never much to tell. I don’t have any parents and can’t be bothered about remembering when or why I lost them. I had learned to live without them. My older sister lived in America. She left us for a career in acting. I didn’t care.
I lived with her old boyfriend though. He didn’t have anything either, so we shared in our own nothingness. We had no relationship going on between us. He was a little younger than Haru, being nineteen. Not that age mattered. They were just a number assigned to us. That’s how I look at it.
“Suzu,” Haru glanced over at me.
We were lying next to each other on the grassy hill that overlooked the man-made river we have run through the middle of our town. My eyes were closed, my inner lids dyed red by the sunshine that felt warm against my skin.
“Do you mind if I live with you and Takumi for a little while?”
I opened my eyes a little at that. In truth, I could care less. At this point I was much closer to this stranger named Haru. I could almost call him a friend. He was in between the stages of acquaintance and friend. In the middle of those two things.
“On one condition,” I lifted my arm, pointing at the sky with one finger. “You cannot fight with Takumi.”