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ode to a falling star

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You're born on a crisp autumn day, to a faceless woman with pursed lips. You feel her nimble fingers run through your thin layers of auburn hair, remember listening to the sound of crashing in waves.

You scramble into the car, one day, watching as she scuffs her toe on the pavement and a layer of her fire engine red shoes peels off. You press your face to the window as she drives, racing past buses and vans and trucks and beeps and loud curses, blasting orchestral music. You wonder why tears streak her cheeks, wonder if you did something wrong.

The car screeches to a stop. You ask, Mommy, what's wrong?, and she only gives you a sharp slap to the face in return and hefts you onto her lip. She runs, heels clacking on the gray concrete, and throws you onto a cold floor. She gives you a final look, blank eyes meeting your fearful ones for a second, before turning around and breaking into a run and breaking a heart that wasn't whole in the first place.

You wait, but you wait patiently, curled into a ball and listening to the clash of metal against metal below you. You listen to the banging and shouting, wondering what it all means. A few hours later, you realize you are hungry, and as soon as you think that, there's a pristine apple sitting in front of you. Eyes widening in surprise, you reach for it and gingerly take a bite. It's tart, crisp- everything an apple, everything a life should be.

A boy with sea-foam eyes finds you one day. He's only a few years older than you but still sports a boyishly-round face, crinkled by smile lines. He talks animatedly about things you only pretend to understand, grasps your hands in his, plays hide-and-seek with you, and makes up wild stories. He tells you his name is Shoma, Shoma Takakura, and you nod, nod in fake understanding, because you've forgotten what a name is.

One day, something hits you in the heart like a bullet train. You feel like waking up and breathing and just living is fruitless. You feel cold, you feel dry, you feel tainted. It's never been harder to fill your air with lungs, exhale, climb up from your position cheek pressed to the ice-cold floor. Your existence is an oxymoron itself, a paradox. No one loves you. No one cares enough to stroke your hair and whisper kind words in the starry darkness. I

f you vanish one day, will anyone care to sing the praises of Himari Surname-less to the streets?

In a daze, you find yourself cooped up in an anti-septic white van. The driver is faceless, like everyone else in the world except for Shoma, and you can barely hear his muffled words. You only nod, only stare down at your grimy hands and wonder why God cared enough to share the fruit of fate with her, to keep you alive for what seems like an eternity.

You stand on the edge of the conveyer belt. Shards of glass fall into a bottomless abyss. You squeeze your eyes tight, fantasize in your last breathing moments what it's like to have your existence ground into glass, vanish from a vengeful world and disappear in a cloud of harsh resentment.

He grabs your hand the moment before you fall; the boy with the sea-foam eyes. He says he cares. He says he doesn't want her to disappear, to become a memory, because he says you're Himari, not a burden, not anyone else. You two stand there, in the dense half-silence that's occasionally shattered by the scream of a broken child.

He wraps a scarf around your neck one day, makes a promise you find within yourself to accept. You meet another boy, a boy named Kanba, a boy whose voice isn't as gentle as Shoma's but still has the same eyes as him. You move into a cozy shack of nailed-together boards. You chug down a bowl of miso soup and beg for seconds. You giggle at a somewhat-successful sea otter imitation as you cuddle stuffed animals at the aquarium. You laugh in delight as splashes of neon color are added to the house, as Sho learns how to make breakfast eggs, as you find yourself getting into heated water fights much to the chagrin of your neighbors.

You say good-bye one day, to your friends. You listen to the drone of doctors, feel your eyelids flutter as a needle is stabbed carelessly into your shoulder, as you fall into a fitful rest. You see a falling star in a dream, a fantasy, a warped reality, swipe a hand to catch it, feel the glowing warmth between your fingertips. The world suddenly turns dark, and you fall, fall to the point of no return, fall into a pit of darkness where you will never, ever become glass.

When you wake up, tears in your eyes, you say good-bye, good-bye to Sho and Kan, good-bye to the world you've loved and loathed, good-bye to a falling star.