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Optimistic

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'Bleak' would have been a rather fitting way to describe this night, as it was for so many others under the destroyed, open roof that two siblings called 'home' (at least until the third returned). The sun almost never shone through the thick cover of clouds that was present far too much for their taste, but never had two capable children wished for little more than the other's company in such lacking conditions. Actually, it may not have been each other's company that satisfied them. (At least not mutually.) One had a faulty, out of date computer, and the other had only himself and a considerable amount of ennui, which prompted many questions he had not bothered to ask before.
"Hanata, why do you write?" A simple question, really. But it seemed like so much more than that.
Without missing a beat, the deadbeat author gave what she believed to be a supplemental answer. "It provides an escape."
"From what?" So many questions today… Perhaps it was the peculiar scent of many exotic flowers wafting from candles hanging overhead by chains Korada had clumsily installed earlier, or maybe he was simply shoving his flat ridged nose where it was unwelcome. Either way, Hanata was obliged to reply to any dim-witted comment that Korada might make.
Hanata's oily hair shone in the collective light of the monitor and the moon as she spun the revolving chair with her feet, creating the whirr-ing noise that ensued. "All this."
"'All this' having the meaning of… everything? Why would you want to escape?"
Of course he would think that way, Hanata thought, only vaguely amused at her brother’s sanguinity while his own physical being was so slight, and his style of living was so shoddy.
"Foolish, uselessly hopeful questions of an optimist, Korada," Hanata murmured through pursed lips, her eyes downcast to behold the creamy white of her obsolete keyboard. "'All this' having here the meaning of war, sickness, insecurities… you know, reality."
Korada's copper brown eyes appeared puzzled. "But you write such depressing stories, Hanata." He raised a small pebble between his toes, unsure of what to do while his sister paid him minimal attention, as she always did. "What's the difference?"
"The difference is that I have unwavering and absolute control over their less pathetic lives. That I deal out the punishments for mistakes I put them through."
Korada shook his head of unkempt hair. "You're too cruel, Hanata." His elder simply shrugged.
"Am I? After all, they're only fictional characters." Hanata turned towards her white keyboard once more, ready to write in implications as need arose. "And if those fictional characters are my children, then I'm a sadistic mother with a butcher knife."
"…I don't get it..." Korada mumbled to the dirt.
A frustrated groan ventured from the confines of Hanata's throat. Her fingers found the eight home keys (as she no longer used the 'hunt and peck' style of typing anymore). With both eyes glued to the screen, ready for a response, she composed a message the one character that was capable of answering her.
Why is he so persistent, Fallon? Not freakishly surprising to anyone who knew the unsociable girl as well as their own person (which happened to be an astounding number of zero, Korada himself being unremarkably far from exception), Hanata frequently held conversations with her own of-the-ink being, Sir Fallon of the year 1762. (He was, in fact, capable of holding decent conversation, because the flow of his speech was Hanata's very best, as every word he 'spoke' came from a very sociable part of Hanata's own personality (no matter how small that fragment probably was).
One could only assume that the response to this would be blatantly obvious, Miss Hanata, the fictitious adult replied to his fleshy 'mother', using the operating system he was born from as a medium. Your dear brother is a lummox. Daft, obtuse… dense.
If he had a face, Hanata was convinced that it would have worn an amused smirk, tugging lightly at the corners of his thin-lipped mouth.
You're dense, Hanata retorted heatedly, brows furrowed together. If you thought for a second that the fact had somehow escaped my consciousness. But how do I make him stop?
Fallon spelled out a chuckle. How should I know? He's your brother.
Hanata growled in a dog-like fashion at the computer. Well then, she wrote, thank you for nothing! I don't know why I bother with you. Frustrated by his unhelpfulness, Hanata crudely dismissed Fallon from her prose, driving her finger onto the backspace key several times.
"But why?" Korada asked again, still not comprehending his sister's strange mentality.
"Because that's the way life really is." Hanta heard Korada shuffle closer to her, peering over her shoulder to get a glimpse of the horrific story she was undoubtedly composing.
"You're so self contradictory."
"But that's something I have no control over, Korada. The reason I write is to create an opposing truth." Hanata made no bona fide attempt to parry his statement, prepared for yet another inquiry of her 'real world' analysis."Paradoxical or not, I can't do anything about it."
"I don't understand. You can still make the opposite true if you write happy stories."
A sigh escaped the artist's lips, warm against her hands hovering just above the keys. "Humor me, Korada. Pretend as if you've an inkling of comprehension."
"But I don't!" Korada pleaded with Hanata, desperately struggling to understand, but she had already transformed back into the monotonous creator of one hundred stories and more.
And then it hit him. Suddenly he grasped resolutely everything Hanata knew, and some things that she herself perchance did not.
"You're a masochist." He mumbled, though Hanata appeared not to have heard him. "Hanata, who reads these stories?"
For the first time in a long time, Hanata smiled at the pain and the mental damage that always followed. Finally, someone understood why she had to do this. Who read the hundreds of stories that Hanata poured her entire soul into, night after forlorn night?
"No one."
"Hanata… That's crazy. Why do you do that to yourself? What's the point?"
Another annoyed groan left Hanata's lungs as Korada continued to pester her with questions he should've known the answers to by now. Apparently he doesn't understand… she thought, for it seemed they had jumped all the way back to square one.
"Find me a fish that breathes air, then I'll answer that question." The pecking sound the keyboard crafted seemed to grow ever louder, pounding in defiance against the gauche silence.
"There are none," Korada responded feebly, beginning to see that he was only being a nuisance.
"Well then you're brainless, aren't you? Figure out the answer yourself!" Hanata snapped at the dejected child, earning a frightened squeak from the lesser sibling.
"I'm sorry, Korada," the insomniac whispered, regretful of her outburst. She didn't glance back at her blood kin, or see the poignant tears trickle slowly from his tear ducts. "Don't cry, okay?"
Korada sniffled loudly. "Okay," he mumbled despondently.
"Don't look so crestfallen. It's going to be alright, okay?"
"Hanata, when is he coming back?" In his perfectly naïve voice, Korada vocalized his longtime qualms. He was referring to his brother, who was, unbeknownst to him, long since dead. Hanata never had the heart to tell him, no matter how callous she came off as.
"…He won't come back," Hanata choked uncharacteristically for the umpteenth time, more to herself than her sibling. "He's gone." The novelist had told herself this time after time, but Korada had never been present when she submitted herself to this kind of pain.
"Gone?" Korada sounded like he had swallowed his own lungs; his voice was dismal and shaky. "You mean…?"
"Yes, Korada. He's dead. Murdered… in Hawaii." With a vacillating voice, Hanata spoke the irony that had protractedly troubled her. "He went for a nice, peaceful vacation, remember?" Hanata threw her head chaotically atop the keyboard, which made bothersome beeping sounds at the sudden weight.
Korada collapsed behind the swivel chair his grimy sister sat in, unable to utter a sound save for the pathetic grieving noises resonating from deep within his throat. His loving, doting older brother had swiftly and unjustly been stolen away from him, and he would never again hear the optimistic chuckle he gave his younger siblings, even when nothing was funny.
Then the typing noises came again, almost breaking his heart. Anger surged through him like an electric volt, leaking out of the small body that could not contain his fury.
"You're going to keep writing your stories now, and pretend like everything's just chipper?" Korada's high pitched voice vocalized aberrantly and sarcastically. "Are you really that insensitive? That numb to everything? He was our brother, our—"
"I've had more time than you to think this over, Korada."
…Yes, that was right. Hanata must have known about this for months now, ever since their brother had not returned at the specified time. The anger faded, only to be replaced once again with the overpowering anguish that stirred up horrible sensations in his gut. Korada dropped down to his knees and sobbed into the ground violently. His hands clawed around for something to hold on to in his agony, only to find nothing but dirt.
As an author, Hanata didn't pretend to know anything more in the field of psychology than her 'children', who were often the victims of psychological warfare in abrasive situations, small and large. How could she posses such awareness, when her only experience came from solitary nights in front of a flickering, faltering computer screen? A decision derived from minute knowledge of the human mind in a state such as her brother's current one, she simply determined that she could do no more for him than embrace him now, when his mind was so unstable, in hope of extinguishing the wretched fire that had rapidly coiled around his heartstrings.
The clack of the keyboard had impeded, though Korada no longer cared if Hanata wrote her worthless stories or not. Then, rather abruptly, two arms encased his convulsing frame, and a pair of lips pressed against the top of his head, kissing the beautiful brown disarray of hair that was badly in need of a decent wash.
"I'm sorry," Hanata whispered, crying into her brother's untidy mane. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."
Korada turned in his sister's arms and wailed into her collarbone as her calloused hands wrapped themselves around to clutch his back. Hanata apologized once again to her small child of a brother, not just for their brother's fatality, but for everything life's cruel mistress Mother Nature had put him through.
"I'm sorry."

Hours later, Korada was asleep on a tattered couch, and his insomnia-struck sister was jabbing away at her keyboard. She paid little attention to the words her fingers formed, because she was lost deep in thought.
In retrospect, I wonder if I could've avoided telling him… Hanata shook her head to rid herself of the thought. No, she decided. He needed to know; I wouldn't have been able to keep it a secret from him forever. It's better this way.
Hanata glanced at her sleeping brother, her greatest inspiration. He was slumbering so quietly, it was as if he weren't there. He looked even younger when he slept, like an infant, something Hanata hadn't noticed before.
Still, she reasoned, I could have been a bit less harsh in telling him.
Suddenly feeling the urge to end her story on a "happy" note, as Korada had put it, she stowed away a hidden wish for him in her writing, as she liked to do from time to time.
As it always did, life would go on and erase the ache it inflicted time and time again on its unpretentious spectators. This time though, as determined by life's almighty creator, there would be no more pain in store for his kin. He would be ever so loving and gentle, and just like any brother would want for his smaller siblings, the sunlight would take the place of darkness once again





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ThrivesonSunshine said...
Oct. 8, 2008 at 12:47 pm
What a great story! So deep for such a young mind and full of emotions most adults aren't capable of vocalizing. Love it!
 
Seth-Dietrich-Nolan This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 22, 2009 at 11:22 pm
Thank you, I'm delighted you like my work! :D
 
Sam71 said...
Oct. 8, 2008 at 10:44 am
This is my favorite piece by Alix M. More of a character sketch than a story, it creates an authentic feel in a somewhat surreal set of circumstances. It is a testament to her empathic skills that she is able to evoke a tear from such a brief slice of interaction between two otherwise unknown, and somewhat odd, characters.
 
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