“Aw man, Garry, you got the last one,” the girl had said, pouting at the sweet in his hand. “I really wanted a pudding.”
Every Tuesday, dessert for lunch at his elementary school was either cupcake or the very popular kiwi pudding. Everyone in his class looked forward to the pudding, although there was never enough for them all.
“… You can have it you’d like,” he had offered, smiling.
He was a ‘nice’ guy.
“E-eh, it’s alright…” she had refused, but her eyes had lingered on the pudding. “It’s my fault for being slow.”
And it was his fault for being nice.
“Don’t worry,” he had laughed, pressing the sweet into her hand. “I’m full anyways.”
“Thanks… you’re very nice!”
He was a nice guy because he indulged others, rather than himself.
“Mom, about the fair…” he had said upon finding his mother in the kitchen.
“Oh, that…” she had the oven’s fire down and turned to him. Before she could say another word, the boiler to the side started hissing, screaming for attention. “Gosh!” the woman hurriedly washed her hands and ran to the kettle. “Look, sorry Garry. Your father is having guests over, so I’m a bit tied up. I can’t take you today. Maybe tomorrow?”
But that day was the last day of the fair.
He rubbed the back of his head in frustration, messing up his short haircut. As soon as his mother looked back at him, he smiled as though he didn’t mind. “… Nah, I just wanted to tell you I didn’t want to go anymore. Do you want me to help with cooking?”
“Please!” she had beamed, clasping her hands together. “Such a dear you are. Always so nice!”
He wasn’t a nice guy though.
“Oh shit. Sorry dude,” the guy had said apologetically, picking up his pen. “Why are you even using something like a fountain pen?”
The fountain pen his late grandma had given him when he graduated middle school, its tip was painfully bent. He winced from the jolt of pain in his chest as his heart rate increased.
“Oh my God, my poor boy!” the woman had screamed at the top of her lungs, encasing her son protectively – the boy hugging his side, seemingly in great suffering. “What did you do to him, you brute!”
He stayed silent, hiding his gaze behind his dark bang. His hands stay limped by his sides; they were numbed and didn’t feel like his. His knuckles were still burning from the punches he’d thrown, and he didn’t dare to move a finger. He faked apathy, but his heart thundered within. What if he became a murderer?
“Mr. Wolfe, just what were you thinking?” his teacher asked in a thick voice, looking at him disapprovingly.
What he was thinking? He didn’t think, only acted. Blinded by rage, was it? He had never felt so scared before.
Every time he let his emotions take the rein, something was bound to go wrong.
“You hear me, Garret!” his father had bellowed, cradling a broken right hand. “Don’t ever come back to this house! Don’t ever let me see you again!”
He should’ve felt something other than a sense of satisfaction, but looking at the many designs torn in half, everything felt justified. He’d stormed out of the house, turning his back on that place of his childhood without a shred of regret.
Regret was all he felt now.
That was why he always strived to limit his feelings. Powerful emotions were only a bother. Hold it back, brush it off, laugh it all away. He would be fine with it as long as others would be also. Self-indulgence wasn’t allowed. The more something concerned him, the less he thought about it. The more he cared, the less he talked about it. The more important it was, the more he disregarded it. He lived his life biting the bullet. He glossed over ‘himself’ and focused on what others wanted. Helpful and easygoing; he was a nice guy.
“No shit? That was when she dumped you?” his friend had asked in shock.
“Yeah, well, she liked someone else,” he shrugged.
“You actually let that slide?” the guy had a look of disbelief. “You’re too nice, should’ve kicked up more of a fuss.”
“What’s the point?” he had asked.
The things he loved kept slipping away from him, but it wasn’t a big deal. ‘I don’t love them that much anyway,’ he would tell himself, and everyone was happy like that.
“It’s nice to not have to think.”
Then she had come along.
She was everything he wasn’t.
She had trouble expressing herself, while he expressed himself too well. She worked hard to show, while he only wanted to conceal. She had no friends for being herself, while he killed ‘himself’ to gain friends.
He would help, but unless the situation called for it, he would never extend his hand on his own accord. She, however, was glad to help in any way she could.
She was pure and true, while he was the exact opposite.
She was beautiful in both body and soul. He liked her, truly liked her. He did things for her, not because it was expected of him, but because he honestly wanted to. By her side, he was both ‘himself’ and ‘a nice guy’; by her side, he could feel good about himself. He was less miserable of a person where she was concerned.
That… spoilt him. He started to indulge himself more, started to want more. The ugly selfish side of him was coming back, stronger than ever. Never before had he wanted anything so bad. He tried to put his feelings off as friendship, a brotherly love, and it was working so well… yet all it took was her childish crush to tip everything off balance. An immature jealousy so tenacious he couldn’t even pass it as overprotective concern, and he was sure he was a master at deceiving himself.
He didn’t want to feel any more than this. He didn’t want to change the nature of their relationship.
It was time to bury his feelings again.
Garry poured an excessive amount of condensed milk onto the black layer of coffee grains, before filling his cup with scalding hot water. He took a teaspoon and started stirring. As the resistance at the bottom quickly melted away, a sweet fragrance started to fill the air in his kitchen. He took a sniff, then a deep contented breath, waiting for the drink to turn a mouthwatering brown.
This Saturday was especially peaceful. The weather was very nice considering it was quite late into the winter. There was no school, and no homework. The midterm was over, giving him a nice, relaxing short break he thought himself well-deserved.
The aromatic warmth wafted against his face as he brought the cup to his lips and blew gently. Taking a sip, he relished the rich taste of coffee – against an overwhelming ratio of sweetener. So he had a childish taste, he didn’t care. He loved his coffee sweet.
“Oooh, smells nice!” a hand guided his cup away from him.
Had he said ‘peaceful?’ Well, he’d lied a bit.
Scarlet casually took a large gulp from his drink. Her eyes widened momentarily before scrunching up as she pulled back abruptly. The girl struggled to swallow, her head swinging from side to side and hand fanning herself.
“Oh gosh, hot!” she spat, making a face. “Sweet!”
“Well, excuse me for letting you drink my coffee,” he quipped.
This girl had suddenly shown up on his doorstep last night, drunk and crying. He could’ve been convinced her whole world had just fallen apart. After they had woken this morning, however, they just went about as usual, as though nothing had happened. She didn’t say anything, so he didn’t pry. She seemed to be in high spirits – that was good, even if faked, because at least she had the mental strength to do so.
Garry scowled at what was left of his coffee, then at the girl who was rummaging through his fridge. She was wearing his clothes again; the shirt sagging on her shoulder, while the jeans threatening to slip from her waist. He just had to question if she would be like this in anyone’s home.
“Ugh, my head hurts,” she complained, taking out milk and a few eggs from the fridge. “I’ll make breakfast. Fetch me the medicine in my bag?”
He took a sip from the cup and placed it down. “It’s past noon though,” he said before crossing the threshold.
“Doesn’t stop me from having breakfast!” she shouted after him.
She always had to have to last say.
Garry walked into the living room, shuddering at a sudden change of temperature. He shrunk into his jacket and thrust his hands into its pockets. The living room was so much colder than the small space of the kitchen, which he loved in the summer and absolutely despised in the winter. He just didn’t do well with the cold, yet everyone else seemed to thrive and rejoice in it.
His eyes settled onto the hourglass that now stood on the table. A month had passed, and watching the ornament had become a bad habit he needed to get rid of. He would daze off watching the stream of cobalt silently flow until the upper bulb was emptied, only to flip it around and continue his pointless observation. Many times, he’d intended to throw the hourglass out, but he never did. He realized he actually liked watching the sand flow; time seemed to ooze by when he did, but before he knew it, hours had past.
Weird? Well, he’d never thought himself normal.
He strolled to the sofa set and grabbed the backpack left ajar on its smooth cushion. As he fiddled with the zipper, Scarlet suddenly came running out from the kitchen.
“Oh shite, Garry, don’t-” he swiftly opened the bag with a simple pull. “Open… my bag…”
“Give me that!” she charged at him, but before the bag was snatched away from him, he had already caught a glimpse of what was inside.
The girl surreptitiously squeezed her bag shut, but not before fishing out a bottle crinkling with pills. She smiled brightly at him, and he crossed his arms, smiling just as brightly back at her.
“Oh right, Garbear, the eggs and bread are done!” she chimed and hastily spun on her heels. “Let’s go eat!”
She was fast, but he was faster, grabbing her by the head and keeping her in place. “I thought you said you didn’t have them with you, Scarlet dear?”
“Well, I told you the condition for giving them back already,” she pouted, twiddling her fingers. “You said you met up with the little girl pretty often, yet I never seem to catch her with you no matter how many times I come by!”
He gritted his teeth at her comment. Whatever face he was making right now, he was glad Scarlet couldn’t see it.
Noticing the weird pause, the girl attempted to looked over her shoulder, “Garbear-”
“I don’t care!” he quickly said, tightening his grip on her head and earning a yelp from her. “I never agreed to your stupid conditions, give me back my clothes!”
He didn’t understand why Scarlet was so interested in Ib, but she probably wouldn’t be able to see the kid for a while longer, at least not with him.
Ib. That name felt so foreign to him now. He had stopped calling her, stopped meeting with her, stopped having anything to do with her under the guise of being busy. He would love to believe Ib would be fine even if he was giving her the cold shoulder, but that would be looking down on her feelings for him. She loved him a lot, he knew, just not the kind of love he needed now.
Simply holding hands was too bland and innocent kisses on the cheek no longer cut it. He wanted something closer, hotter… wetter. He simply wanted more.
Like this was for the best.
This was the lesser evil.
Sitting on the couch, Garry clicked his tongue and spun the hourglass in an impatient clip. He couldn’t remember how long it had been since he last saw her, but it probably hadn’t been long enough. ‘Just a little bit longer,’ he would tell himself, but no matter how long he waited, it never felt enough. He still remembered, still… ached. These feelings weren’t going away. There was an irrational yearning that he’d grown weary of denying, and soon, erasing.
He violently punched the mattress next to him and shot to his feet. He needed to do something to get him off his mind. It was too quiet.
“Stingy! You have a whole wardrobe of these!” she had exclaimed, holding the bag away from his reach.
“Like you don’t!”
“Well, no one’s stopping you from borrowing any of mine!”
“They’re. Girls. Clothes,” he’d grated each word.
“And I’m sporting menswear! Does it look like I have a problem?”
A wry chuckle escaped his lips as he ran a hand through his hair. He might complain whenever Scarlet intruded, but honestly he appreciated every moment of her presence. Which was why he never opened his mouth to tell her to leave and why he hated her for having left swiftly after their awfully late breakfast. He wanted her to stay with him a little more; he just wanted someone to be there, anyone would do.
He looked around the room, trying hard to think of something to do, but soon gave up. He didn’t want to do anything. Slowly sitting back down, he pulled his legs to his chest and hugged them there; his fingers started playing with the black hem of his pajamas pants that he had yet to change out of. Resting his face on his arm, he absentmindedly watched the hourglass at work with hooded lids.
“Garry~” strong hands gently placed themselves onto his shoulders as lukewarm breaths tickled his ear. “She’s coming~” his voice whispered in a playful hum.
It was that guy again. He kept pestering him ever since that night, just lurking around the space between dream and reality, showing up as he pleased, saying whatever heliked. He really hated him.
“What is it now,” he muttered, groggily looking up from his arms.
Red. A beautiful red entered his vision. He could never find eyes of a more exquisite color.
Ib stood before him, with all her adorable grace and charm. Such a precious existence.
Was this another prank from that bastard, or had the time for him to crack finally come?
I really don’t care anymore.
He lifted a hesitant hand to her face, caressing her soft cheek in a sort of awe. His fingers found her ear and carefully traced down to her jaw, guiding the little girl towards him. The feel of her skin was so mollifying and addictive, leaving him fantasizing about its taste. His mouth watered at the thought.
He snaked an arm behind her back and drew her nearer. She was so small, so fragile, and he barely kept himself from suddenly crushing her against his chest. Her scent was simply intoxicating. He was unable to look away, completely and utterly captivated. Brushing his thumb over her dainty pair of lips, he swallowed almost hungrily.
He blinked, coming face to face with the subject of his dream – or so he thought. She appeared flustered in his arms…
In his arms.
“Hyeeeeeekkk!” Garry shrieked, backing away from her in a hurry and ultimately falling over the couch’s arm. His head met the hard floor with a loud thunk that would leave anyone wincing upon hearing.
“G-Garry! Are you okay?”
No, he was not.
- Garry actually got along with his parents quite fine before he was disowned
- Garry did get his clothes back in the end