Chapter 3: Anxiety

As a child grows up, she is bound to meet…

She will interact…

She will bond…

It’s only a matter of time…


I feel sick.

“…bear, Garbear~” He blinked into focus to see the face of Lucy right in front of his.

“Hyeeek!” Garry yelped, backing away and falling from the bench he was sitting on. Only moments after his back collided painfully with the hard floor, the table was filled with amused laughter.

He pushed himself off the ground, hissing sardonically as he got back on the bench. “Really, thanks guys. Your concerns moved me.”

“Am I a monster or something?” the brunette complained from across the table, folding her arms and huffing in mock anger. “Did you need to scream like that?”

“You only realize that now?” a blond guy sitting at the other end of the table chuckled.

“The whole year named ya Lucifer, ya know.” another chimed in, grinning.

“If you two don’t shut it then I’ll let you two meet the real thing.” She shot a glare at the two boys, earning her desired silence as they slapped a hand to their mouths.

Garry narrowed his eyes at the antics on the table and sighed. He didn’t have the energy or zeal to join them. He hadn’t been able to concentrate at all for the whole morning. The words of his lecturers were nothing but gibberish in his ears, he couldn’t come up with a single idea for his assignments. Repeatedly, he’d found himself sitting in a daze, irked and annoyed.

He couldn’t bring his thoughts away from the telephone call last night. Ib was a painfully shy child, for her to even thinking about confessing her feelings so easily and readily, he didn’t know what that meant. He didn’t want to know. She was only eleven, she shouldn’t be thinking about love.

Even though he’d already discouraged her from the idea, he couldn’t get rid of the nagging feeling that she would go against his advice. Ib never disobeyed him, not intentionally anyway. Children were impulsive little creatures. Ib was different, more mature than most of her peers, but she was still first and foremost a child. He’d learnt that in the gallery.

“Oh my god, what’s the next class after this break?” a girl in the group whined, resting her face against the table.

Garry swiftly glanced in the general direction of the voice, then lowered his gaze to the glass before him. The random soda he’d picked had a burgundy colour much like Ib’s eyes. That unique set of irises, he’d thought only her parents and himself could understand their beauty. Yet, a random brat just popped out from nowhere, claiming to understand that distinctive charm. He used the drinking straw to poke at the floating ice cubes inside the glass, jaw tightening.

“Aye, Garret!” a strong slap on his shoulder woke him from his reverie, and he turned his head to address the culprit. It was another guy from his department. He had a mane of unruly black hair, highlighted with numerous streaks of blue. The fashion department, after all, gathered the largest crowd of people with the most peculiar tastes.

“Dark clouds are gathering, eh?” the man snickered cryptically, flashing his very prominent set of canines.

Garry blinked in confusion, his eyes darted upwards for a mere second to see the clear blue maw of the sky with barely a clump of cloud. He raised a questioning eyebrow at the brunette, who only shrugged. “Why don’t you go home, chum?”

“See ya around.” with that the guy took his untouched drink from his hands and walked away.

Garry’s mouth hung opened as he watched the dark-haired man’s back, trying to understand what that was all about.

“Oh? Since when were you friends with that weirdo?” the blond in his group asked.

He just shook his head. “I have no idea.”

For some unknown reason, Raze just started talking to him though he could have sworn they had never rubbed shoulders before despite studying in the same year. That guy never made sense.

‘… Go home, eh?’ Garry gave it a thought and decided to entertain the idea. He pushed off the table, grabbing his backpack. “I’m leaving.”

“Eh? You’re skipping?” Someone commented, but he didn’t bother checking who it was. He flashed a swift smile at his friends and turned to leave.

There was a short silence at the table.

“Heeh~ I wanna follow him, but my attendance record…”

“This is shocking, Garry’s skipping?”

“Hey, don’t you feel that there’s something different about him? I say he’s in a bad mood.”

“Whatever, my heart just skipped a beat. Him acting all taciturn is so mysterious.”

“Right? He has a good face, if he’d just stop being a sissy…”

Lucy stayed silent. She sipped at her soda can, attentively watching the departing young man oblivious to the discussion he’d left behind.


Garry got back to his apartment. He unlocked the door with his keycard and stepped inside, closing it behind him.

He dropped his backpack down on the chair in his study and looked around the room, registering the mess it was in. Last night had been… a tad out of control. He rubbed the back of his neck and, with a sigh, started gathering the books and paper strewn across his desk and on the floor. After a few minutes, everything was returned to their rightful places: still messy, but not a mess. Garry then picked out a few folders he would need and left the study.

Before he closed the door, the small hourglass lying on his desk caught his eyes, and he went back in to grab it along also. He’d bought this a while back from a random trinket shop when he’d been out of town. It was hand-sized, filled with cobalt sand. Ever since the gallery, blue just kind of became his color.

Garry left his things on the table in the living room together with the unfinished work from yesterday, then went to set the hourglass so that it stood on top of the television. The tiny grains inside the ornament began to flow and collect in the lower half. He stood and watched for a bit, before tipping it over.

.

He entered the bathroom for a short shower. Cleaned, he changed into a black tank top and dark loose-fitting trousers before joining his assignments in the living room.

He drew, erased, redrew, and balled up the paper. Rinse and repeat. Hours passed. He couldn’t seem to be satisfied with anything he came up with. Why children’s clothes? He wasn’t familiar with children’s clothing.

Garry clicked his tongue, grabbing a reference book to surf through a few examples. A picture of a small, ivory-white turtleneck caught his eyes. He felt it would suit Ib. She would look so cute in this. Not that she needed any clothes to compliment her, Ib was adorable from head to toe. The thought brought a small smile to his lips.

Ib was such a lovely little thing. So young, so serene. Innocent. She couldn’t possibly understand what love was.

“I like him.”

He bit hard at his thumbnail as he took out his cell to check the time. It was four thirty. He gave a short sigh and stood up from the couch. Walking into his bedroom, he headed for the wardrobe, only to come to a still. He looked absentmindedly at the greenery of his small backyard through the large glass window, deep in thoughts.

Ib was probably just experiencing a fleeting crush due to the fact that she had never talked with boys her age before. That particular kid just stood out from the rest. She was probably only impressed by how differently he treated her…

His eyes widened as the realization struck him.

Of course.

Impression was the key.

The stronger the impression, the longer the feeling would last. To the point of permanent, like a tattoo. Wouldn’t she interact? Wouldn’t she build a bond?

No.

Garry hastily pulled a cream-coloured shirt over his tank top and threw on a white jacket. He rushed towards the entrance to his apartment. As he yanked the door open, his other hand tapped on the screen of his phone. It was a few seconds later that the other side picked up.

“Yes? Irene Voltfied speaking.”

“Hello, Garret here. I’m afraid I won’t be able to come. Tell Mr. Garland I’m very sorry.”

“Eh-”

He hung up and pocketed the phone.

He started running down the street, heading for the school area. Garry poorly manoeuvred through the sea of people during rush hour, passing everyone in haste, bumping into random pedestrian but never stopping to apologize. He quickly ran out of breath, but that didn’t stop him.

What is this?

Garry could only concentrate on one thing. One person. His heart had gone wild with its beating and was beginning to hurt. From exhaustion or a sudden nervousness, he wasn’t sure. He had to be near her right now.

This ugly feeling…

Arriving at his destination, out of breath, he found support in his knees, coughing as he gasped for air. His surrounding was noisy, filled with childish chatters and carefree laughter. Garry swallowed once, slowly regaining his normal breathing rhythm. He stood up straight and wiped the excessive sweats cascading down his cheek.

He was right at the entrance to the private academy where Ib attended. A tall, immaculate building painted royal red, an enormous campus ground, a prestigious environment. Garry silently watched as several of its students left through the gate, passing him with curious glances at his direction. Kids that enrolled here were all young masters and ladies from distinguished families, trimmed and pruned with the best the world had to offer.

This was where Ib had grown up in, where she belonged. This was her world. A world where he didn’t exist.

If he had never met her in that gallery, would they ever cross paths?

He was different from her, so different. Mediocre upbringing, penniless, disown. Was it alright for a guy like this to be by her side?

“Garry?” He turned to the sound off his name being called a spotted little Ib standing just short a distance away from him.

His expression melted into a smile, and he beamed at her. “Ib!”


Inside a coffeehouse, a young woman with a fall of silver hair sat staring silently at the screen of her phone. She set it down on the table, pinkish eyes addressed the brunette man sitting across from her. “He’s not coming.”

The man gave her a bored look and popped two sugar cubes into his cup of black coffee.

“Sheesh, I only wanted to meet him during my coffee time to save the trouble,” he clicked his tongue in slight annoyance, bringing the cup to his lips. “That brat.”

“It sounded like he was in a rush,” she offered.

The young man took a sip then sighed. “Oh well, just tell him I’ll meet him at the apartment after the trip.”

“Understood.”

“But really, what would be more important than his life career?” His lips curved into a small smirk. “I’d really like to know.”

 

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Trivia:

  • Garry only considers one person in the group friend
  • Garry trashed his study after Ib’s call
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