It took a while to write this part. I made a whole lot of revisions to it over the last few days. I originally thought of making it a fair bit longer, with paragraphs about the history of the narrator's relationship with the mother, and experience from the last school it went to, and doctors and physiotherapists and dreams and god knows what. But it was even more boring than it is now, so I cut away half of it and this is the result.
I am not a chapter writing guy, you know? I am not used to writing this kind of stories, where you have the entire plot in your head carefully prepared from the beginning and each chapter follows the former in a logical and aesthetically pleasing way towards a great goal. When I write, it's most often because I have a very specific idea of what I want to say that just came up at some point, I write a few pages in a couple of hours, there's a beginning and a middle and a sort of end and ten minuets later it's already posted.
So in a way, this here is another experiment. I still don't know anything about the narrator, not to mention a plot (seriously, I haven't the slightest idea), I am just kind of going with the flow and advancing time a little, hoping to delay that fateful moment when I have to start actually making things happen, or creating a cast of interesting and likable characters and the interactions between them.
So for now, have a little pointless "chapter".
If you asked me how it feels like, to be like me, than I think I'll have no choice but to answer "I don't know". I mean, how does it feel to be like you? I'd like to know that as well. I was born the way I am, so I never even got to experience anything different. Sometimes I imagine how it must be, though. I guess it's always exaggerated in my mind, but I think it would feel pretty wonderful. Like one of those superheroes on TV suddenly finding more power from within himself just when it seems like the bad guy is about to win. All of that strength inside your body suddenly becoming yours to command at will. You feel like you can do anything; Lift heavy objects, leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Walk around without crutches, in my case.
Just so you know, my muscles aren't weak. I mean, they are, because I don't exercise them very often and I don't eat well, but that's not the big problem. It's the nerves controlling them that are not functioning properly. I could have the biceps of a world-class bodybuilder and it won't matter one bit because they still won't respond when I tell them too.
Or at least, that's how the doctors explained it to me. Maybe they thought it'll make me feel better. I don't think I can really feel the difference, to be honest.
Usually, I wake up very early in the morning and just spend a few hours lying in bed facing the wall with my eyes open and thinking about all sorts of things. Sometimes I shift around a little when the posture of the moment becomes too painful to bear. That morning wasn't any different, at least in this regard. My face itched and my eyes burned from last night's crying, and I could feel the pressure and heat on my back where Mika was still soundly sleeping. It wasn't comfortable, despite my bed being rather wide, but it wasn't painful either.
I rolled over to see her face, and she looked so nice sleeping that I didn't want to interrupt her by moving her. Which would almost certainly involve waking her up and asking her to move, since I probably won't be able to push her around by myself. I haven't seen her asleep since she was really tiny, and maybe those memories were the ones floating back to the surface of my mind when I looked at her. All that was missing was the sweet, innocent smile of a little girl, but I guess it's only so much that real life can be like a television show. I thought about touching her again, but it would probably disturb her.
Don't think for a moment that those things she said to me the night before and the fact I let her into my bed like that completely turned around the way I thought about her from that moment on. You can't erase eleven years worth of a bitter grudge in one moment, no matter how precious. Real life doesn't work like that, and I don't think it will ever go away completely. A part of me, that may shrink over the years but never go away fully, will always think of her as the girl who stole from me the life fate intended for me, reversing the natural order of things without ever admitting to it.
She might tell you that she always thought of me as older then her, that she respected and admired me despite everything, but it wouldn't change the fact that in the end of the day, it was still her helping me into my pajamas, not the other way around.
I don't think I'll ever be able to fully forgive her for that crime, even she'll never even know about it.
So I just stared at her, thinking, until my parents came in. I rolled over when I heard the door opening and the steps on the thinly carpeted floor.
"Good morning," my mother said a second later in the cheerfully hollow voice she always kept just for me. My only answer was a slight nod of recognition, but I know she didn't really mind. My input to the entire process was really rather minimal. I just kept staring silently and waited for the upcoming inevitability.
"Mika, what are you doing here? Why aren't you at in your own bed?" she said with a voice just on that amusing verge between surprise and anger that we all save for such occasions.
Mika mumbled something unclear in response, still not fully awake, and I could feel her moving behind me and getting off the bed.
"I just wanted to say goodbye," she protested quietly, but mom just told her to go back into her room and get ready, helpfully reminding her how difficult it was usually for me to fall asleep. I felt like I should've intervened, but I decided no to.
I am not really sure why.
I knew that I and my mom both had the exact same thing on our mind right now, but she didn't mention anything about it, as if it was just any other regular morning. I wondered sometimes whether she of all people really understood it when the doctors said that I wasn't, in fact, mentally retarded.
The first day in a new school is an experience that I think any teenager would consider frightening, worrying or at the very least somewhat unusual, but I had a certain history with schools, not exactly a pleasant one, and it was obviously on both of our minds.
It's just that she thought that if she wouldn't speak about it, maybe I won't remember.
Maybe she pretended that she didn't.
"Let's get you out of bed, now, sweetie," she said with a voice completely unlike the one she used a minuet ago, and for the first time in a very long while, I replied verbally.
"No. I can do it."
She went silent for a second, perhaps confused, and then sighed. "You think you can manage it all on your own?"
"Yes," I said, even though I wasn't sure at all. But hey, I managed last night. It couldn't have been so difficult if I already managed to do it in the dark.
"Are you really sure? You won't have to do it yourself until tomorrow, why not enjoy being with your family for as long as you can?" I thought… I thought I might have heard a subtle hint of desperation in her voice, at that moment. She was actually desperate about it, but it only made me feel better and more confident in my decision. "Enjoy being with your family?" Did she really think being carried around the house was my concept of enjoying time with my family?
One of us must have been a horribly twisted person, and I still wasn't sure which one it was.
"Tomorrow's close," I said simply and started turning around in my bed. Tomorrow was close, indeed, and it was all the more a reason to learn how to do those things all by myself. I won't have mom and dad to help me at school. That was the very reason I decided to go there in the first place. That was my idea, and I wasn't going to betray it in the last moment, no matter how uncomfortable and scary it seemed. I was intent on doing it by myself even if it killed me.
Some people take getting out of bed for granted, but if you think about it a bit more deeply, I'm sure you too will come to appreciate the sheer complexity of this physical operation. Sure, I could have just made another roll to the side and be done with it, but I didn't feel particularly like banging my head against the hard floor so early in the morning.
So I decided to do it the slow, awkward way, crawling like a caterpillar who forgot how to move its many legs towards the floor, secretly glad that only mom was there to see me.
Probably figuring out that she won't be able to convince me to change my mind, she just said "I'll be in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Please call if you need anything," and existed the room, just like that.
Such a weird and wonderful feeling it was.
I picked up my crutches, opened the closet and took out a bundle of clothes to take with me to the bathroom.
I didn't leave the house much these days, so I never really got to wear very fancy or complicated clothes. I stuck to simple, comfortable things with as few pieces as possible that will be the easiest for my helpers to get me into or out of.
In comparison, my new school uniform looked terribly complex. Japan isn't a terribly cold country, right? Were all of those different layers really absolutely necessary? I knew it would take me forever to get everything into place. I swallowed in comical dread and for a moment I even considered asking for help after all, but in the end I decided not to make a complete fool of myself and just try my best.
I stood in front of the large mirror while struggling to get out of my pajamas.
"Looking great," I lied to myself quietly, and brushed my teeth while deliberately ignoring the painful yet obvious fact that most people probably didn't consider "slouched, bent, and devoid of facial expression" a kind of "looking great."
In my defense, at least I wasn't cross eyed anymore. I used to be when I was younger. That was positively ridicules.
It's far easier to fill a bath with water and lie inside than it is to have a standing shower, but it also takes a lot longer. I had an ominous gut feeling that putting on my uniform was going to take a while, so I decided to go for the shorter, more difficult route.
Hard in training, easy in battle, they say. I have to get used to things like that now so that I won't have to in school.
I think I did a fairly good job, both in terms of cleaning myself and in terms of not breaking anything too important, and it only took forever to get into my uniform, which was about half as long as I thought it would take.
My family was almost completely done with breakfast when I finally made it to the kitchen. Normally, they would never have started eating without me, but I guess my mom was a little angry about my decision to arrogantly try to get out of bed by myself. Naturally, I also insisted on not being fed, which meant having to arduously fish tiny pieces of precious nourishment off my plate with my head almost stuck to the table surface. My dad did have to help me sit down though, just to make sure I was positioned properly so that I won't slide down during the meal and end up on the floor. They'd have to crawl beneath the table to peel me off it. It happened a couple of times in the past, and I don't think they were amused by it as much I was.
I didn't want to start a fight, so I didn't argue.
Everybody was smiling at me, and nobody said anything.
Frankly, I was a little ashamed of myself. I wasn't really sure anymore if this whole performance was wise, or even worth it.
But deep inside, I knew it was. Every single excruciating last bit of it, then and before it and long after.
"Are we allowed to carry your bags to the car for you, or can you do that by yourself, too?"
On a sidenote, it was really difficult keeping the whole ambiguous gender thing while writing the part with the mirror and the uniform. I had to rewrite it like five times, and two times I was almost prepared to give up and just give the narrator a freaking set of genitals already. But I didn't break! Oh such pride.
What do you think, overall?
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.