The sun drawing near, peoples voices grew louder and louder. I could hear them laughing in joy and crying in sadness. I skimmed the crowd to find a familiar face when someone called out my name, turning around I see a smiling boy walking towards me. I smiled back as I walked towards him and gave him a hug.
There were occasional silences during the ride back. I heard the faint static of the radio and the songs that played over and over again. I started dozing off during the ride back to my house. I was trying my best to not fall asleep but the occasional bumps and the very smooth streets just coaxed me into falling asleep. My head would occasionally bob up and down as I drift off into a slumber about halfway home I woke up. It was a bit embarrassing waking up to see Keisuke looking at me with an amused face.
“ It was a long trip back,” I said rubbing my eyes as I peered over at him.
He had a small smile on his face.
“Okay, okay I snored just a little,” I looked outside the window. “ I’m not sorry though,” I turned up the radio and sang with the songs until we arrived at- his house? I glanced at him a bit confused but before I could ask him why we were at his house instead of mines he had answered my question.
“ You’re parents went out and they forgot to leave you the key, so you’ll have to stay here until they come back.” He answered, his eyes still on the road.
“Wow I’m surprised you can still do that,”
“ I thought you wouldn’t be able to- and why not?” He interrupted me.
“Since it’s been three years, since I’ve seen you.”
There was an awkward silence as we pulled into the driveway I sat there, stunned. I could only see his side profile, but I knew what he thought about. He was stuck in the past he always was. Even after three years, I thought you still haven’t moved on. His face staring straight ahead of him, his body not moving an inch, his eyes I couldn’t see them but I knew they went black, pitch black. I remembered it clearly that was the day his girlfriend of three years died in combat. She died for her country and I will always remember her bravery.
“ I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bring that up again,” I said as I looked down at my hands playing with them nervously.
He chuckled a bit and shook his head he then looked at me and smiled.
“No it’s fine I need to forget about that right?”
I was taken aback by his sudden change in his emotions. I nodded a bit to agree with him, but when I saw the same pitch black eyes I knew he wasn’t happy.
“ It’s been three years right? I’ve moved on,” He gave me a reassuring smile and patted my head.
I nodded back. “ Yeah,”
I felt nostalgic walking to the front door of their house everything was still the same inside and out. The pictures from three years ago were still here. I looked at the pictures on the wall in the long hallway, there was one picture I didn’t see, the picture that would always convince me that they would be together forever. It was the picture of Keisuke and Althea. I continued walking around the house remembering about all of the things we used to do. Our friends called us the “Three Musketeers” they say we would always save the damsel in distress even if it was just putting a band aid on a child’s scraped knee. I remembered how the routine went. I would be the one who would make the child stop crying, Althea was the one who tended the wound and Keisuke was the one that carried the child to a bench or to their parents.
Later that evening Keisuke’s parents came home and accompanying them were my parents, their son and my younger brother. My mom explained to me that they had to go to that party because they had some “business” to do there. It was kind of amusing because it was a pool party for “teens” and they somehow met Ryker and Jalen there. While the parents were chatting in the kitchen talking about the boys priceless reactions, I walked to the living room popping a spot next to Ryker.
“ And I thought I had pretty bad luck with mom and dad,” I laughed.
“ Oh shut your mouth Yuri you weren’t even there,”Ryker sighed and looked away “That was the party of the year and they just had to come and ruin everything!” He raised his voice a bit.
I chuckled at his response. “ I bet Aarushi was there, wasn’t she? That’s why you’re all butt hurt now,”
He gave me a scowl.
“ Oh don’t give me that look Ryker I know you like her,” I smiled at him. “ Cheer up Ryk they were only doing it for you,” I patted his back and got up to walk to to the bathroom.
Closing the bathroom door behind me I sat on the toilet seat and stared at my reflection in the mirror. I could hear Ryker and Jalen arguing with our parents about ruining the party and being “party crashers”.
“What business could you possibly have at a party? Ryker stated.
“Yeah, why did you guys have to come. I was doing great with the girl I like,” Chimed in Jalen.
“ Oh please, you call that hitting on a girl?” Jalen’s dad let out a loud laugh.“ You think grinding on a girl is “hitting” on her? You are wrong son. Dead wrong,”
Jalen sighed in defeat. “I will forever be known as that kid who’s parents crashed the party, thanks a lot mom and dad,”
I smiled to myself standing up I opened the door to see Keisuke standing there with a smile on his face. I was a bit confused as to why Keisuke was standing there but I was in the bathroom so I guess it made sense. I excused myself and walked back to the living room sitting on the couch once again. I leaned my head back on the couch and closed my eyes soon I fell asleep.
I woke up the next morning in my bed. I guess my dad carried me to bed. I don’t remember waking up at all last night. I got out of my bed and got ready for the day. Walking down the stairs I saw Ryker lounging on the couch watching T.V, mom in the kitchen preparing breakfast and I didn’t see dad. Maybe he was out walking the dogs, I thought he usually does that every morning.
“Morning sweetie,” My mom said while setting the plates on the dinner table.
“Hey,” I smiled back as I walked into the kitchen sitting in one of the chairs.
“Ryker please go get your dad in the backyard breakfast is ready,” She looked at Ryker who was laying on the couch now.
“Sure,” He said in an apathetic voice.
He let out an irritable sigh and shuffled his feet to the backyard.
“Hope you like the breakfast hun,” Mom said with a smile. “It’s not much but it’s what you used to love to eat.”
I looked at the table there was eggs, toast, sausages, and freshly squeezed orange juice. The eggs were perfectly scrambled not too dry or too watery. The toast a golden brown with a slice of butter placed in the middle. The sausages had a golden brown color to them they weren’t burnt or raw. The aroma of freshly squeezed orange juice filled the house. Dad and Ryker walked in and sat at the table we started off with Dad praying and then we all helped ourselves. I took a bite of the egg off of my plate and my mouth watered instantly. I closed my eyes oh how I missed my moms cooking. The egg was perfectly salted not too salty or too stale, I took another bite of the egg I gazed upon my plate of food and I grabbed the toasted bread and took a bite of that. I kept chewing the bread with each chop I could hear the crunch. The sound of the bread almost felt familiar, too familiar. The leaves that I used step on as we walked through the forest and the plains in broad daylight that’s what it sounded like. Something warm was running down my cheeks it tasted salty when it got in my mouth. What felt like rain drops on my face reminded me of that time during the cold rainy night I lost a comrade in a cold stream, the blood washing down the stream was all I remembered that night.
“Yuri,” Dad shook me lightly. “ Yuri,” He shook me again his voice sounded concerned.
I fell back into reality and opened my eyes to see a blurry man, woman, and a boy staring at me. I was confused I didn’t know why they were looking at me like that I touched my cheeks they were wet. I looked down at my shaking hands I let out a shriek and started screaming shaking my head, my hands were covered in blood. I tried to rub off the blood but it wouldn’t go away no matter how many times I tried the blood didn’t go away, it would never go away. I shook my head as tears flowed down my cheeks someone grabbed me and embraced me patting my head and telling me it was going to be okay that it was all over and I’m home now.
“Shhh it’s going to be okay,” A man said in a soft voice rocking me back and forth gently.
Something dripped down onto my face. I looked up at the man his eyes were filled with tears. The woman and the boy they also had tears running down their faces.
“What’s happening to me?” I said in between short breaths.
“Honey,” The woman’s voice broke from crying. “ You’re home now there’s no need to be afraid anymore you’re safe honey,”
The lady bent down and caressed my right cheek. I flinched at her touch.
“ Mommys here,” Her voice barely above a whisper.
I stared off into the bright light my eyes slowly closing on their own. The light grew darker and darker and soon it was pitch black.
The sound of guns firing, people screaming, bombs going off in the distance.
“Yuri!” I looked around to see who was calling me.
Was I on the ground? I felt a warm liquid on my right hand and a sharp pain from my abdominal.
“It’s going to be alright keep your hand right there,” A man said to me as he placed my hand over the pain.
I nodded my head I felt my eyes roll to the back of my head as I placed pressure on this indescribable pain.
“YURI!! Stay with me you’re going to okay,” The man said shaking my head lightly.
“ Don’t fall asleep on me, stay awake. Yuri! Yuri!” The man shouted at me.
I felt my arm go limp the pain was increasing I closed my eyes slowly I saw the bright light ahead of me again.
“You’re okay,” I muttered to myself.
Gasping for air I clenched my chest and opened my eyes sitting up I looked around breathing very hard. The room was white and small everything was white. The sheets, bed covers, blankets, pillows, walls, and my clothes all white. Then it hit me I did it again this has been happening to me ever since I got back from the war. This was the only reason why I was discharged of my duty. I was traumatized by the war; so much that no one could help me anymore.
I scoffed to myself. “More like they couldn’t deal with me anymore,”
The sound of the door clicked it was opened and then closed.
“Keisuke,” I whispered.
He explained to me what happened that morning. I was apparently asleep for four days in a row and I barely woke up today. My parents and Ryker were at home resting they were here for the last three days and today Keisuke convinced them to go home and rest. At least that’s what he told me.
“Althea would be very worried for you,” He pulled me into a hug.
“Yeah I know I miss her too Kei,” I said hugging him back.
“ I don’t wanna lose you too Yuri,” He nuzzled his face against my neck his voice cracking a bit. I chuckled at him and let him go looking at him.
“ Aww you’re crying. A commander in chief doesn’t cry.” I patted his back.
“ I’ll be fine,” I reassured him giving him a big smile.
My parents came and visited me after Keisuke called and told them that I had finally woken up. The doctor said that I was going to be fine he mentioned something about therapy to my mom. He told me it was merely because by post-traumatic stress disorder. He also told me how it would help me recover from coming back from the war. It would take a while but he said I’ll be able to live a normal life again and with that he shook my hand and left. Dad and Ryker helped me walk down to the car as we got into the elevator I flinched a bit as it came to a stop. I felt like a baby again not aware of their surrounding and getting frightened by everything. Just as we walked out of the entrance door I froze in my place I didn’t move at all it was all coming back again, that night. I remembered it all, after six years I remembered it again. I remembered why Althea wasn’t here with us right now, I remembered why I was sent to a different place, I remembered all of it again. I started seeing a therapist and things were going well. My friend helped me get a job at the company she was working at.
“Today’s Keisuke’s birthday I hope he’ll like my present,” I said smiling to Celeste while barely avoiding a man on my left.
She shook her head in disagreement. “ I can’t believe you’re still talking to him,”
I scoffed and rolled my eyes at her response.
“Let alone give him a present,” She said while pointing at the small box in my hand.
I playfully nudged her. “We’re just friends we’ve been friends for the longest time Celeste you know this already,”
“ Yeah I know,” She nodded her head and accidentally bumped into a older woman on her right side. “Excuse me,” Celeste bowed slightly to the older woman and continued walking down the wide sidewalk. “ But this doesn’t make any difference you already know how he feels for you so why do you keep sticking around he’s just going to bring you down,” She let out a sigh and looked back at me.
I smiled at her and pressed the button on the light pole. “He can bring me down all he wants to but I promised her I wouldn’t leave Keisuke’s side.” I replied while I looked at the green light. I heard her mutter out.
“ You’re a hopeless case.”
I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. I clenched my heart; I couldn’t breathe what happened in seconds felt like hours to me everything moved so slowly, my vision slowly blurred I grabbed onto the light pole to catch myself but that didn’t help. My body went limp and Celeste caught me, my throat got tighter and tighter, it felt as if something was sucking the air out of my lungs.
“Yuri!” Celeste yelled as she caught me.
“Someone please help me!” She yelled.
“Cel it’s fine I’m okay,” I took in deep breathes and pulled myself up grabbing onto her hand.
I pulled myself together and stood up but immediately falling back down.
“Yuri don’t push yourself,” Celeste held onto me taking my left arm and put it over her shoulder.
“Thanks Cel,” I gave her a weak smile.
Trying to take another step I fall again but this time I felt strong arms wrap around my body embracing me and lifting me up into a bridal carry. I gazed upon the man’s face and met his eyes, his light brown eyes. It was him.
“Hello Yuri.” His smile sincere his voice sweet and soft.