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Odd Apple

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Without a trace, like mist, like a fading breeze. Those haunting particles, chilling, shining, overtaking the entirety of his livelihood. But he, he has accepted it. To this, which has no end, he will keep painting. And he continues to do so, each stroke come with the shaky rise and fall of his chest. 

This is his mission. 

He, who has felt forgiven by sunflowers, for more bright and open than he, will honor all he sees. This is his way of communication. His right to smile. Neglecting all that might have allowed him to rest, he pours into his work desperation – no…. that is not correct. Why would he be desperate? Shikishima is content. Day and night repeat. Seasons change. And he is destined to return to the soul, withered, without a trace, the smallest flames going into the sky. 

Ah, what a beautiful world he lives in. 

Understanding, this which plagues him doesn’t scare him. So he thinks, anyway. It is but another flip of the coin. Nothing more than another aspect of the graceful toying this state of being must face. How sweet this dance seems to be, his grasp moving again and again and again to try to allow his sight to bloom. 

If he leaves nothing behind, so be it. Will, air, like ashes blowing away in the softest of winds, he will give himself to this cycle, this lovely, dreadfully so, cycle, struggling all the while, in spite of the pain, in sprite of being alone. 

Nothingness, a simple medley of black, white, grey. 

Floating, alone. 

Should he gasp after his coughs, these shooting reminders that soon, soon he will be free. Released. Able to relax, to become one with every aspect of this Earth. The pretty flowers, dead or not. The pretty bugs, crawling, wiggling, searching for their place, which they will find, thrive, and, too, shrink away to the wind, under the light of the sun and the reflection of the moon, disappearing, hardly remembered. 

They accept it. 

Yes, this disease, this incurable, irremovable beat that causes an irregular pace of his heart, wounding his body, but not his soul, his lost… lonely soul. No one understands this disease, except that it will kill. No one understands him, except that he’s ‘strange.’ He can’t help but smile in spite of this, in a case where, perhaps, others would cry. Their sorrow, how gentle, how his artistic eyes take them in. 

It squeezes his lungs, his heart, aching his very soul, but it doesn’t hurt. 

Sticky, scarlet, stunning in its sustaining nature, how it stains his fingers, parts of the canvas, leaving lines on where his holds his brush. It’s scary, sure, but fear does not own him. Will it free him? 

Funny, curious, how delicate he is, a young mind, sending away the days, slowly, slowly, he accepts it. No regrets. No worries. 

No– 

He gasps. Wait, this… there’s more to see. Suddenly he is shaken. Worried. A blunder, nay, such a word is too weak. Graceless, foolish, hold on. Sunflowers, bugs, more days of laughter, tears, all at his fingertips, slipping through, away, distant, lonely. 

More to do… what a fool, a fool with a sun beams so false. 

Is this what freedom is supposed to feel like, taste like? How peculiar… how cruel…

What a gorgeous place, the world is. 

His eyes open and he is snapped back to reality. Her… this girl, a flower, able to blossom into anything, but also a soft rain shower. She is the ground that stills them. Is that what brought this memory back? In a place where dreams are drowned by a distant sky, so cold yet warm, so inviting yet repelling. Memories resurfacing, all her emotions bouncing back. She’s trying, trying to take it in, to fill this “emptiness” she claims is inside her, to “know” him. 

A bloom, reaching out, fingers unfurling, spinning the winding despair with an equally powerful hope. The softest breeze and a raging storm, both the sun and the moon, perhaps… what more can she show me?

He muses, humming through his tone. How would she feel if he moved his scarf around her? Oh, but there’s no chance to do so this time. A shame. Such a pity.

What an interesting girl, with her touch that stirs the world, her eyelashes fluttering as her gaze falls on him. 

She’s strange. 

Good morning, Rinka, he says, smiling at her, “Was I a comfy pillow for you again?” A light laugh. A breath of air, unbarred by weak lungs that are stymied by the dust and the physical bounds of a frail body,  Maybe I should make that tea for you again… If you are to perk up, then you’d need such a pick-me-up, wouldn’t you?

The way her look twists, concern mixing with embarrassment, a pout that almost mismatches her eyes… how cute… truly, she’s adorable… 

Is she giving him freedom? Is she prying his stubborn eyes open to a world beyond even he’s known?

…Is she even giving him a choice?

Determination, another chance, a “kiss” of life, so to speak. He’d not have much time, even if he rose again, but to finish, to pass something on, to not be a foggy cloud, fanned away. 

Life or not, a “disease” dwindle down or not, this is… the freest he has ever felt. Alone… she refuses to let him be so. By his side, now, intertwined. She has seen it, him, and her search within him, within herself, to sow a garden of understanding. He’s accepted that. She’s accepted him, hasn’t she? Still, he must continue to paint. He’ll capture this moment too. Her efforts, this time. Choice. 

Nothing can take that away.