Author: stardust rain
Coupling: three guesses. :P
Characters: Ichigo, Rukia, mentions Masaki. Well, she's popular isn't she?
Themes: mostly April showers, but May flowers thrown in there somewhere.
Summary: of interludes and in-betweens. Ichigo’s minutes are blurring together.
Disclaimer: Bleach, its characters, names and places do not belong to me. Le sigh, le sob.
Words: 1,200-something. I've added words here and there.
Note: there is a part two coming later.
Windows and the sky
These are your days in the interim, stuck with nows and thens, and you mix up your time from past and present. The early sun rises to meet you in empty rooms and you draw the curtain to another day. Certain now that it was all over, you carry on with your life with your world spinning endlessly. Nothing ever changes here, as though time itself had folded its wings after you returned that summer.
After all the blood, the struggling between life and death, Rukia didn’t come back with you; she couldn’t. It was just plain impossible, and everything you risked went down the gutter.
Later, you started to doubt it all. Those words you never spoke, questions unasked and unanswered, the rain of blood you spilt and swords you broke, what was it all for? You shed her of her powers, but there was never a thought of doubt that she won’t return, won’t be able to return, not one glimmer as you had your skin cut open countless times. They were small uncounted details you would worry about later. But later never came for you, not really.
When you were five, mother taught you origami. You sat many afternoons alone, folding paper flower after paper flower, lilies and roses and petunias shaped and brought to life in your hands. You practised and practised until one day you didn’t even need instructions from the book anymore; all the folds bends were now stuck in your head. Now, some ten years down the line, you stare at the blank square of paper in front of you and wonder how to begin. There are still things you still know how to do, like the stem of the sunflower and the leaf of a water lily, but everything else seems gone.
You taught it to Rukia too, or at least the parts you can remember. And you came home to find a hundred paper roses in your bedroom.
She came back, one day. The same attitude as before, and she yelled at you the way she used to when you laughed at her lack of dress sense. She's changed though, you could see that very well. There was a way she spoke, the way she looked at you, it all seemed to carry some kind of sadness, the one of dead flowers and rotten leaves slowly dissolving.
It was like coming out of winter, the thick unchanging snow that surrounded you melting under a rain that she seemed to bring. She smelt of flowers, you remember, a cheap perfume.
There were questions, so many questions, but you never asked that time either. “Will you come back?” you wanted to ask, and “Will you come to me again?” but never dared to. The words scared you somehow, the always and forever of their meanings, the way they gained life after they left your mouth. She smiled at you the whole day, a smile that was not meant for you exactly; slightly wistful as though she already sensed her departure, light swirling around her knees.
Then evening came, and clouds brewed overhead. Through the storm, you could make out a faint shape of a paper door, and she started to walk away, and with each step she was a world further away behind the curtain of rain, each step a little less yours in the blurring grey. “You'll see me again,” she said, and you believed her. Because there was nothing else left for you to believe, anyway.
That day you never touched her. Afraid that you wouldn’t be able to, your hands slipping through flesh and bone, clutching at nothing, all out of muted fear that she might not be real. And she was the only reality you came to understand.
Interludes and in-betweens, little pieces of time trickling like rainwater unnoticed, blurring everything together.
You’ve never focused on these half-moments because they don’t last, until you realized that your life was made of them. The few minutes in morning when you expected the cupboard door to open, the twitch of a cell phone going off in class, going to your seat expecting her beside you but instead finding an empty space, no one’s presence. There was nothing to it, and like the window to the sky the were only fillers, halves. They don’t count. You didn’t count them, and your days shortened mercifully by a few hours.
But sometimes, sometimes in the dead of the night as you woke from yet another dream about her, the pictures more blurred than the last time, you were grateful for those moments. They fade and slide into each other, second after second, blurring everything together like the rain, so perfectly that you can’t tell one moment from the next. They give you time to think, to regret, to try to mumble a hushed word or two before everything fades away. There’s no time between the door closing and her shape fading away, between hearing words and feeling the hurt and you couln't even catch a moment, a minute, a millisecond to look back.
And sometimes, when everything stood still and you’re filled with a terrible longing, her face burning fiercely in your eyes, you wished for them to go away. It was terrible, waiting, because it’s a mixture of fear and dread. You were afraid that she won’t come back to you ever again, but you didn’t know what to say to her if she does.
Then you started to forget, the little pieces fading away. One day, you realized couldn’t weren't even able to recall the sound of her voice, her favourite animal, the way she drew or what she usually had for lunch anymore. There are only small traces of her here and there, bits and pieces you remembered to keep, like the page in your notebook she drew on for the last time.
Her belongings remained this time, but everything else was gone, all the soul and meaning of it. No idea when you last touched them and you stare intensely, trying to fit another lost puzzle, peicing halves together and call it a whole. A box of the best felt tips, a book full of teddy-bear drawings, Polaroid photos with faces smiling in sepia, a sunflower dress, where did they all come from? You keep them and try to hold on, belongings that you don’t know who they belong to. There are so many pieces missing and the canvas in front of you is not complete no matter how much you stare at it.
When you come home from school, it suddenly starts raining again and you take refuge in a nearby shop. It’s a second-hand clothes shop, you realize, full of left behinds and unwanted things, bits and pieces no one remembers to wear anymore. It’s neat here, and looking around you see that everything lays in order on the shelves, arranged by colours and labels. It smelled musty, too, as if the shop itself was made of paper.
You feel safe in that small shop somehow, as though you fitted in among those faded Nike jumpers and worn Levis jeans. The rain sounds like nails hammering the window, and you never wanted to leave again.
The girl behind the counter is young, with short black hair and lack of dress sense. And she smiles at you, a smile not meant for you exactly, a glint in her eye as though she knows who you are, can hear your reply as she asks, “May I help you, sir?”
And you stare at her and blink, wondering whether or not you are dreaming.
Author’s ramblings: Erk. I was slightly stressed when I did this, since half was typed before my Physics test, and the other half was just in time for deadline. I hope it was okay. You may also notice that I write in *cough*British English*cough*, since I don't know the American words for it to save my life.
And yes, there is a part 2 coming, though I may or may not put it in the competition. Depends on Internet restriction and so on.
Name: stardust rain