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Who Am I?
This is actually a short story for Pre-AP English, but I do like to right books.
Akira walked slowly through the hallway of his school. Deep in thought, he headed to his next class. It was like a magnet. He didn’t know how he knew where to go. His feet, his heart, his brain. They just took him there. Who am I? Akira thought to himself. He heard the bell, but he wasn’t really listening. He spoke, but he wasn’t really speaking, when he told the teacher another lame excuse as to why he was late again.
“Who am I,” he said to no one.
At lunch, Akira sat by himself. He sketched someplace far away, a place where everyone knew exactly who they were. A place where nobody told you what to do or who to be. A place that Akira couldn’t find.
A place that didn’t exist.
“Hey, weirdo,” a voice above Akira announced.
He ignored the call and continued his sketch. Probably there to tease his hair color again. Akira’s hair was a little odd for it being natural. The top was jet black, pretty normal. But, as you travel down, it fades into a crimson red. That’s right, it’s natural.
The kid slammed their hands down on the table, “Don’t ignore me,” they said in a low, threatening voice. Obviously, it was a boy. Muscular and, most likely, on the football team of Crystal Mountain High School.
Akira looked upon the boy with silent judgement. Skylar Herring. He thought he was the king. His grades told a different story. Akira stood up, brought himself to his full height, and stared at the bother in front of him.
“What do you want now, Skylar?”
“Well, I left my wallet at home. Can you help me out,” Skylar demanded rather than asked.
“Your wallet’s in your pocket. And besides, I’m not going to give dirt like you a cent of my money. Nor my time. Now, leave me alone,” Akira stated angrily. He went to sit back down when, suddenly, he was knocked to the floor. Stunned, he leaned on his elbows. Akira looked up and saw a red-faced Skylar clutching his right fist, anger plastered on his face. Akira sat up and gently prodded his cheek. Any normal person would have been out cold with a punch like that. Akira was stronger than normal people. A grin spread across his face.
“What are you smiling about, nerd?”
Akira didn’t answer. He picked himself off the floor, wound up, and knocked Skylar out with an upper cut. Then the bell rang.
“Akira, what has gotten into you,” asked the principal quizzically.
Turns out, Akira broke Skylar’s jaw. His mom wasn’t all too happy, either. He was sent to Principal Winchester’s office to try and “figure things out”. Yeah right. While the principal was talking, Akira’s mind wandered to a most common subject for himself. Who am I? he wondered. Why am I expected to be perfect? Why can’t I be me? Who is me? Eventually, he was sent home with a week’s suspension from school.
Akira looked out the window, tuning out his mother’s rant. He wanted her to understand him, not shut him out. Who am I? he thought again.
Akira’s mom touched his shoulder, snapping him out of his daze, “I just want you to be stable. Live a happy life,” she said. So gently that he almost believed her.
Akira shook her off. When they arrived home, he stomped to the door, walked inside the house, and rushed upstairs. Slamming his bedroom door, Akira face planted on his bed. He buried his face in his pillow and let out a scream. He sat up and started pounding his fists against the headboard, screaming and shouting and, maybe, a tear or two escaped him.
“Why?! Why does it have to be like this?! Tell me!” he choked. Then, softer, “Please…I want to know.” Akira cried himself to sleep that night, losing himself completely. His mom sat by his door, silent. She never knew how much pain he was in, never even considered his troubles.
She curled her knees up to her chest and whispered, “I wish I knew.”
The next day, Akira, backpack on his shoulders, climbed out of his window using rope from under his bed. Once he landed, he took off into the forest behind his house. He ran until the darkness swallowed him and all he could hear was the crunch of the twigs beneath his feet. He ran until he approached a wolf shaped boulder with strange spiral markings covering the surface. Akira placed his hand gently on the cool surface, closing his eyes and sighing. Akira liked to come here to think. It was quiet, since everybody thought the forest was cursed. Such a stupid, yet helpful, myth. He remembered how his father had taken him here once. He remembered him calling the rock Aasim, meaning protector. His father said that, a long time ago, a mighty warrior gave his life to protect the forest. His spirit lived on as a rock, blocking the darkest parts of the forest, where the evil still lay. Akira missed his father.
“How ya doin’, Aasim?” he asked opening his eyes slowly. “Things have been crazy for me,” Akira motioned to the bag he had slung across his back, “I’m feeling like a camping trip. Mind if I crash here?” he laughed quietly. Talking to a rock. He had definitely lost it this time. Akira set his camp up at the foot of the rock and snacked on the granola bars he brought with him. Who am I? he wondered. He wondered as well why he wondered that. He was a person, wasn’t he? But he wanted to know what made Akira, well, Akira. What was special about him, his soul, his heart. When the sun set, Akira laid back and gazed lazily at the stars until he drifted to sleep.
Akira woke to the sound of howling close by. By the looks of it, it was about midnight. He had let his fire die out in his slumber. The howl sounded again. Akira scrambled to his feet and backed against the rock. His sapphire eyes were wide, trained on the creature before him. A wolf, fangs bared and dripping, stepped ever closer to him. Akira couldn’t move. He could deal with bullies, he knew, but a wild animal? No, he was smarter than that. Or so he thought. The wolf walked closer and closer. Each time it did so, Akira tried to flatten himself against Aasim. Finally, snapping out of his terror, Akira burst into action. He turned around and began climbing the boulder, finding sturdy places to grip. He made progress halfway up. Then the wolf leaped, soaring, and brought Akira tumbling down.
Akira hit the cold forest floor with a thud close to the fire he once had, the wolf fell only a few feet away. Quickly he grabbed a still smoldering branch from the ashes. As soon as he flipped around, the beast tackled him to the floor once more. Akira put the branch between the wolf’s fangs and his face, trying to gain the upper hand with harsh kicks to the animal’s underbelly. The wolf jumped away, yelping in pain. Akira jumped to his feet and dug the ash covered end of the branch into the wolf’s side. The wolf howled; Akira screamed. Fury had overtaken the boy, blinding him to his actions. Akira stopped when the wolf fell limply to the forest, whimpering. Akira stood, stunned, for a little before he fell to his knees.
When the sun rose, Akira carried the animal to his house. He ignored his mother’s looks of disbelief and marched to the kitchen. A few minutes later, he exited with the wolf limping slowly behind him, a brown collar around her fluffy neck. Akira felt bad about what he had done. He had tended to the wolf’s wounds and cleaned her up well. He called her Shihobu, a name meaning perseverance because she survived the worst.
He knelt and placed his forehead against hers, “Forgive me,” Akira whispered. Shihobu licked his face in return. Akira fell back and laughed, actually laughed. His mother smiled in shocked joy. She never thought he would laugh again. Akira rolled on his side and smiled the widest, most genuine, toothy grin since his father died. This is who I am. Not who they want me to be. He thought. His recklessness is what made Akira, Akira. He had spent years trying to find someone that he was all along. He loved danger. He cared, most importantly. Akira couldn’t help but think of his father. You knew all along, didn’t you? That’s why you showed me Aasim, right? Akira reached and pulled his mother down with him, Shihobu in between.
She framed his face gently in her hands, “I always knew it was you.”