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Chapter Twelve: I Want to be Alone:

We made it back to the house about seven in the morning. The guys didn’t speak to me for the whole ride home. I just wanted to be alone at this point. I had the feeling that the guys sensed that from me as well. I had my knees to my chest, looking down at the floor. I replayed the whole fight in my head just like I did at the steakhouse. Despite all of that, I still had more questions than answers. If Dan wasn’t the reason Hitomi killed herself, then what happened?

The girls stood outside of the house waiting for us. Akemi’s face went pale when she saw the bruises on mine.

“What the hell happened?!” she demanded to know.

“Leave me alone,” I muttered as I walked by her.

“I won’t leave you alone!” she shouted. “Tell me what happened right now!” The only response I gave was the door slamming behind me. I dragged myself up the stairs to my room. Hitomi, why didn’t you say anything? I flopped back on my bed. The ceiling looked like an endless black hole this morning. I reached up in vain to grab it. I was right here, I thought. You could’ve told me something.

My mind went back to that day by the creek. She could’ve said something there, but we didn’t talk. I could’ve asked her again what was wrong, but I kept my mouth shut. She would’ve lied anyway. We didn’t speak that die, but I wonder if anything would’ve been different if either one of us had said something.

I reached under my bed and drew out the walkman. After looking through Hitomi’s tapes, I selected a random one, put it in, and hit play.

July 23rd, 2004.

When I was a little girl, I loved to catch frogs down by the creek. My mom made me throw them back and wash my hands. They were just so cute. I used to put them in the small pond in grandma’s front yard and just watch them swim. For just once, I want a frog for a pet. Everything in my room used to be filled with Kerokerokeroppi. Keroppi sheets, Keroppi pajamas, Keroppi slippers, Keroppi backpack, my school supplies were Keroppi, most of my clothes were Keroppi, I even had a Keroppi toothbrush. –She laughs on the tape-

My mom got so sick of buying Keroppi at one point. “Don’t you want anything else?” she asked. I laughed and said no at the top of my lungs. She only sighed and shook her head. I still have my big stuffed Keroppi daddy bought for my birthday before he left us. I remember that summer I showed Kichiro-kun my “pets” at grandma’s house. I had never heard a boy scream like a girl in my life.

-Kichiro-

I remember that summer really well. She shoved a frog right in my face. Of course, I screamed. I didn’t expect it to be within inches of my face like that. You would scream to if beady little eyes were staring right into yours. I smiled to myself through the pain of my face. That was one of the best summers in my life. However, sorrow crept up in my gut as I remembered the recent events. Why didn’t you say something before you killed yourself? A knock came on my door. I pressed stop and looked up.

“What?” I asked.

“You okay in there?” Akemi asked. I sighed and rolled my eyes.

“Yeah,” I replied. “Can I please be alone for little while?”

“Tell me who hit you,” she demanded. I rolled over on my side.

“Go away, please?” I asked. “I’m too tired for this. Just leave me alone.”

“I will whoop the ass of whoever did this to you,” she said. “You know that, right?”

“Yes!” I shouted. “Now can you just go away?”

“Alright,” Akemi replied. I didn’t even lift my head when her footsteps echoed away from my door. I held the walkman near my chest as I drew my pillow over my head. I just want to be alone, I thought. I drew my eyes closed in an attempt to finally go to sleep.

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