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  "Hey, Yuu, do you think my mom's doing alright?"

New York City. A place where famous deities flock, and tourists rush. As of recent, Cirque Tristesse has reached the famed town. People wondered why the stars of the show don't see the sights, try the food.
Why they were excluded from what they have.

Simple answer- we can't leave.
Lengthy answer- the ringleader keeps us captive, more so. We cannot leave. He finds us. Ferid is the only one who can leave without consequence. And, as long as we don't go too far, Mika and I can go around the performance center. Although we got beat afterwards. He was taken from me... Let's see. Nineteen... Eleven... Eight years ago. Eight years thinking he was dead, that the joyful presence in my life would forever be void from my being. I learned to cope with it. The emptiness. Filled it with other things. Collecting those few things he found mass amounts of joy in. Colorful rocks, seashells not shattered by the current, those rare beauties. I could never stand entering the old room we would often play in. So my mother locked the door. I was never able to stare at red roses for long periods of time. Their thorns pierced my heart with the memory of him.
If it was this painful for me, to not even bear the sight of simple things for so long, I couldn't begin to conjure what his mother must have gone through.

So I did what I had promised myself to never do.

I lied to him.

I lied to Mikaela Shindo.

That everything was fine.

"Yeah. I think she's doing alright." I breathed, looking up to the night sky. We had snuck away after the performance. No one bothered to come after us. They gave us our peace. Mika deserved just that. Peace. Before he could change the topic, I fired a question.
"What was the lullaby you were singing?"

He picked at his moss green sweater, shaking his head.
"Something my mom sang to me. It's silly." No avoiding the topic of his mom. I saw the pain in his eyes. Pain. The only emotion he has revealed to me, recently. I wanted to see more. His smile, his anger, his envy, all of it. But all I got was pain and stoic expressions.
"Tell me." I ordered, leaning against him, head on his shoulder. He sighed deeply. "Fine. But first you're going to tell me how much you heard."
"Two verses."
"Bayushki-Bayu. It's a Russian lullaby." He muttered. I lose Mika to the memories as he reminisced about the past. He was on and off again. One moment he would be insulting me and threatening to punch me. The next he would stare off into the distance, eyes glazing over. He hugged his knees to his chin, eyes darting across the street. For once, I thought I saw a smile. Hidden beneath the torn jeans he had on. But I knew it was not a happy smile when the tears began spilling.

"Life could've been happier if I had just fought back then. Fought to survive. Fought for you." He choked out the words.
"Instead I allowed myself to be taken away to this hellhole. And I prayed. I prayed that you would one day return to me, that I would escape this place. You returned. But here we are. And yet I wonder. Is my mother still praying at the side of her bed, in the church pew, the public bathroom? Is she still praying to God that her baby is miraculously safe somewhere, trying to find his way back to her? A miracle is what I asked for him to deliver upon me. I can still remember the words I cried on the first week when I had realized what exactly had been done upon me.
'Lord, why have you forsaken me? Why?'" I heard him croak and sob. This was his breaking point. My faith is not certain. I doubted there even was a God. Although as he spoke, voice shaking and shattering, I knew. His hope in the deity in the sky was what kept him striving forward. Mika's faith is what happened to bring us back together. Mine blind and resting within myself and those I know. His certain within his savior, the Lord.

That was what he thought.

His faith truly rested in the hope that we would meet again.

"I feel like I'm drowning." He whispered, lacing his hand with mine. "Sinking deeper in myself. "

"Then I'll be beside you the entire time, and help you to the surface."

"Like a life jacket."

"Yeah. A life jacket."

"Then how will you escape?"

Strange question from a strange person.

"I'll swim."

"What if you can't?"

"Then you can learn to, and save me."

We stayed quiet.

Silent.

"I don't want to go back."

"Neither do I."

"Promise me you won't talk back this time, Yuu. It hurts to see you like that."

"Okay."

I will not deny it, I suffered without Mika. That, for a time, yes, I have battled the monster known as depression. At eleven, I lost my best friend. On my twelve birthday, I got therapy as a gift. On that night, I saw my mother cry. And for once, I heard her pray.

"Lord if this got to your voicemail, this is a one time thing. You took someone very important away from my baby. Now he's sad. I'm asking you, to give him peace.
Give him joy. I don't even believe in you. I don't know why I'm praying to you. I didn't go to you before I signed the Divorce papers, I didn't go to you to ask for help paying the bills, for just one more meal until I got paid. Yet here I am. Praying to some superstar in the clouds to help my son. So please, do this one time thing for me. Bring a smile back to his little face. I don't want to give him medication. He's too young. Please.
Just this once."

"Save him. "

Those were the words she spoke, before she broke down into tears. She was always strong. But for her to pray for a God she didn't believe in was a sign. She was desperate. And would do anything for me.

We all drown at some point.

Some of us remember to swim to the surface.

Others don't.

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