“So, you think I’m just going to lie down, and hear that a killer is still alive?”
The Hokage... why did he tell me?
I glared into the fragility of its surface, and in the glassy forest water, I only saw red... fall was in the trees, illuminated clearly in the crimson pond with these darkened, blood-red hands of mine. It provoked unimaginable rage and conviction, with the hands of autumn’s blood, it held no borders between crudity and beauty, like both were alive and similar in my darkest moment. But all was well in elsewhere, so why was I only suffering to look at this red-leaved struggle? Its beauty was my terror. The color of the trees may fade but they come back to life from end of winter in a vibrant green, and already, like the crimson reflection of trees, I was so cold from winter’s coming grasp on my shaking hands.
A spirit was among me like her red-hair, my mother, a reason to fight, and only at that moment when I dipped these hands into the icy cold glass of winter’s grasp. I cleansed these spirits of my face, washing away tears, for I was crying. Father, why... why do I have your evil blood on my defiled hands when you never even held mother except in malice, and neither even your children in more than your deliverance? I was alone... the blood of my father and mother on my hands, and as beast of the village they so abhorred, no wonder these people forgot me. And in this hell, I really was a beast, just like both my parents... but I knew mother was pure, however the situation that was put on her. Murder... blood... red goop that stained my hands, my nails were still wrenching through meat and screaming as I did so, the life was taken from my hands as this cold water of winter’s grasp constricted them.
On its own, my tears reached for the one that was gone, and I hated my loneliness... vindication... my eyes fleeted around when someone called. Scared, the end was when my emotions broke into screams. Ripples appeared, resounding on the water as the tears and sobs fell into the glassy pond. With the angry thrashing about by my arms through glass, like a fool, my reflection only appeared yet again. After a while, I heard no one calling after in their longing. Whoever they called, they screamed for me. It was the Hokage, but I knew not for sure. Why didn’t I say something? He loved and cherished my presence, when no one else would.
The guilt of my excuses, all these fists of anger must stop. I slammed the glass, cutting my hands and gaining more scars after the blood fell from my fingers, like it was the reflection of the one I hate. All I had ever been was a beast—but he was worse. I was fighting for my family, continuing to have the light to kill my father, and find solace for my mother. This was so familiar, like his anger was mine, however it was nothing like what happened when I learned the truth upon graduation of the Academy. My father was still alive, a rogue, and I wanted his blood on my hands to wash away, not stain them. Was killing justification or whim? I hated them both, because killing was the end in both, and either could go into the ground. That I knew.
“Naruto, where are you?”
I heard her, her voice close, she was to the very point of crying as well. I tripped over the stone, my hardened heart... my sister was coming in strides, marching up to the doorstep of my secret hiding place. She was my only family that I loved that was alive, and in that somehow, she didn’t share my ambition. After a throw-around, she would be opted to conventional wisdom and hug me, and I would be placid against it.
“Naruto... why did you go off like that? I’ve been looking everywhere.”
My little sister... Like any father’s child, both of us grasped our father’s powers in our hands, and it was ripping and tearing at my shirt like a set of claws on my chest. I just wanted to be a ninja... and now I only wanted to get close his throat and destroy it with my own claws. But forever, I might never find where he lies.
“Let’s go home...” I said, rising to these broken ankles of misery. What good were feet when they could not follow a path and walk it?
“So big bro, what are you going to eat? Ramen?”
Ramen... the taste was something to forget. Many meals and many harder times were spent retching over this instant noodle dinner, but I put it together that my conversations with Kaoruko were much more solace than seeing another day be another sad and lonely experience. In these hard times, when you had someone to share it with, it put running away from the Hokage out of my mind. My sister was very good at knowing which experiences startle the creature within my veins, and which pacify it.
“So, are you doing better? Want to talk about why you went to that pond again?”
I went through the various reasonings of what I had done there. She looked startled.
“Big brother, you know he’s long gone... he probably died years ago by being the bingo book. A lot of those people die and—”
My head turned from side to side very slowly in defiance. “Do you ever feel connected with him? Like you know he’s still out there, probably using his powers to destroy all his enemies and kill more people? Besides, the Hokage said he was alive...”
Sister resolved that thought, “He might be, the Hokage said... he might be.”
“Don’t say I’d change my mind so quickly.”
She huffed out air going upward from her bottom lip and she tossed her red locks out of her face. She stood up from her chair, and on her face was the anger of a witty hand slapped clear across it. I ambled to my room down the hall, and in my room, there was only permanence of a long-ingrained silence that we had. Kaoruko was just across the hall, but it was like a million miles from here. She couldn’t reach me now in my loneliness. Some things weren’t meant to stay the same... and my permanence was a long dividing line, like it was across two countries... we were so close, yet so far.
Ninja orientation, this morning, 11:30, the start of march. In what a new book, pages of should have leafed by easily by something as simple as wind, but they ceased to be anything more than a million files in a set of metal drawers. A word hadn’t wandered from my lips, and my classmates never looked my way. Alone, but I still cherished my only chance to have solace... so my day starts here.
Sasuke situated himself at my left hand, his eyes distant, and Sakura was parked in between us in our former workbench of common students, something that we were no longer. The trapped birds now free from their cage, and flight now possible. We were Ninja.
“Hey, you guys, you’re too quiet... especially you Naruto, what’s wrong?” said Sakura tenderly.
Sakura’s face flushed, her eyes flustered bright red as her face. She longed for me and done so longer for more than just a few years. She would give her love to the boy, haphazardly trudging through dark and murky waters of my still swamp. The shining light that would never bring its joy upon her... was sitting right next to her.
“So, taking a vow of silence?” said Sasuke. “It’s about time.”
I glared, rage bellowing up from the cage of my ribs where a thousand lost souls of my ancestors now sit. “Don’t you think it’s about time for you to shut up?”
“So, my first impression of you three...” said a new voice. “Idiots...”
I peered at the man, mocking his glow of secrets. His silver spikes, his mask, it was covering up of his need for a comb, in hopes to tame his wild hair. His muscular arms were also hidden by long sleeves. This was telling me that in his gloves and long pants during spring were also a part of how he never wanted his skin to show. I bet the only part that ever gets burnt during heat of the day was his toes sticking out of his sandals.
The man seemed to be a secretive player in this game for the 4 of us, like he was playing his red dire straits, and I had a royal funeral in spades of black. Obviously, he didn’t know who I was, but controlling me will be a challenge, being the Hokage’s son and all. His one-eyed glare he threw made me think he have some headway into my past. And... His headband over his left eye was hiding something that even more secret... well, I wanted to find out.
“Alright, so now that we are on the roof, go ahead and tell me about yourselves.” said Kakashi, “Alright, let’s start with you.”
With his arms out wide at his hipbone and his one eye shut tight, I his impression seemed to be much lighter than a feather duster that still was covered his grit when his eyes cut towards me.
“Please define introducing ourselves! You didn’t talk about yourself.” I said.
High and mighty, the destruction of that cool flame was almost put out.
“My name is Kakashi Hatake, what I like and what I dislike... I don’t feel like telling you that. My hobbies? I have lots of hobbies... what about dreams... I really haven’t really thought of that.” said Kakashi.
“Hey, we only learned your name... what kind of introduction is that.” said Sakura.
“Anyway... I think it was the loud person’s turn.” said Kakashi, “So why don’t we all act like adults?”
Adults... certainly, he was of an age with his grey hair, but this old man would trade us away for a heard of swine even if the rudeness continued.
Rage bellowed up... “My name is Naruto Uzumaki! I don’t like you or anyone on this team, and what I like isn’t something that matters to you. I have no hobbies. My dream? My father, the greatest person to the village made me a monster. I only want to show people he’s still out there, and his mistake for allowing mother to die and leaving me with nothing but my little sister to take care of. His sin was the most vile thing anyone’s done. I want his blood to wash away from my hands when I slit his throat.”
My two teammates looked at me like they had seen a spectacle of a wild beast in a circus. They were confused by my display, in awe of it.
Sasuke was next, “My name is Sasuke Uchiha. I like my mother’s cooking and having my brother show me his cool secret techniques. I also like the fact that my father was very proud that I graduated second in my class. I dislike my team, I thought I would be with people who were better ninja, but whatever. My dream is to become the best ninja I can be for my family, becoming stronger than my brother and then taking over as head of my family. I also kind of like a girl, but it’s whatever.”
Sakura then looked back and forth between us, as if deciding who was hotter like it would be the middle of summer in a desert wasteland...
“My name is Sakura Haruno and I love... I mean the person I love... I mean, I really like two people, but if I had to decide.”
Sakura mashed her qipao skirt hanging down like it was being turned up by the wind and squeaked loudly like a mouse that was just stepped on.
“Alright then...” said Kakashi.
Kakashi then handed out papers. Survival training? It didn’t make any sense. We had tests in the Academy.
“What’s this about? Another form of test?” I said.
Sakura knitted her brows so much it fused together in to one and she was thinking exactly what I was thinking. “Yeah, we’ve done those.” said Sakura.
Kakashi grinned under like his facemask cheek to cheek as if his just visible smile were an oni-mask, “This one... is special. Think of it as... a training mission.” he then laughed.
“What’s the deal... what Sakura said was a normal question!” said Sasuke.
Kakashi gave a sinister signal of uncouth cruelty... his chuckling, like daggers as we bled out our in fear... in foresight of what was to come.
“If I tell you, you won’t like it...”
We all glared. “Just tell us.” Sasuke said.
“The top 33% that passed this year’s exam will be the only ones to pass. The other teams will be sent back to the Academy to take remedial classes and hopefully get to try again within the next year.”
I felt lightning strike my chest. My teammates, stricken by the same bolt that went through their bodies, both shook in terror. It wasn’t over.