The Day My Life Changed
Table Of Contents
Chapter I - The Wake Up Call
The only thing after it happened was a handwritten note on my table reminding me to relive what I just went through in a journal. Oh yeah, I was probably found by my nearby neighbours who knew of my condition. I don’t know who it was that helped me into my apartment, but I find the gesture grateful as I sat down and began writing out my episode.
Noticing the digital clock on the desk, stating it was just gone half four in the afternoon, I had been in what felt like a frozen bubble of nothing for the good part of just over half an hour. It was less powerful and a bit longer than the previous one, just like the one before that, but I’m still left numb to the world during it. I opened to a clear page and started writing:
Dear Diary: ...It happened, again. 24/7/2028
Episode Length: About 34 min.
My first memories during the panic attack were from when I was around seven years old. It was a very sad memory, as it was the only memory I have of my never-to-be sister, who’d died prematurely. Later on, when I turned thirteen, the first thing I remember was when it was revealed on the news that a study showed there was a very unique, genetic anomaly in humans.
They enclosed to everyone that if a human fetus grew successfully, according to simulations, the babies wouldn’t have normal human ears. Instead they grew with the ears of an animal, including the tail, but genetically they were unable to figure out what the animalistic appearances were going to be.
It was three years later when I decided to study genetics. The idea of my sister being one of the numerous casualties inspired me to look into it. The subject was really hard to follow, but I did my darndest to keep up with the workload alongside my other three subjects. I remember my dad giving me the document that contained the details of my sister’s genetics, as part of a case study. I was hoping to disprove a theory that was being spread around campus as a rumour. Turns out, I was along the right tracks and doing the right thing, but I was focusing in the wrong direction.
Going back earlier, I can remember the news reporting the case of twenty unreported babies surviving back when the mutation was not known at all, because it had just been found in the first reported fifteen thousand cases of premature deaths recorded with it. And that twenty was from this fifteen thousand who’d been diagnosed with a wrongly titled “disease”. If I recall, I think my dad mentioned that he remembered rewatching the reports over and over when I was eight as there was "horrible, political nonsense" being aired. His words, not mine. They were the first recorded numbers of the babies actually making it past birth.
In the present, I’m twenty three years old and writing into my therapy diary as I look back on my life. The apartment I’m in had been bought by my parents. It contains a large open room overlooking the majority of the local area that I call the lounge, there are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an open kitchen and dining area connected directly to the lounge area.
Off to the west from my building are a few large shops, an outdoor spa pool is right to the east of my building and to the north is a large shopping centre with three stories of shops and cafés. Between them and me is a large park with a pond full of wildlife. I’m glad I’m facing out this way, as in the other direction there are just rows of boring apartments and lots of dark alleys that some people wouldn’t like to be living near.
For the past five years, I’ve been living alone in my apartment. I barely go out unless I’m gathering food and drinks. It was only a month into my university courses when it happened. I still find it hard to live alone when it always makes me think back to the death of my parents. The image of the totalled car being almost torn in two... while I survived, my parents … well, you get the picture; they weren’t as fortunate.
I remember the absurdly strong feeling of falling into an extremely anxious and deep depression almost immediately after the trauma of the crash went away. The family car had been plowed into and ripped apart by a stolen semi, plus trailer and cargo. Luckily, I was in the part of the car that was furthest from the point of impact, but I was still covered in bruises and deep cuts. It had hit us while travelling at ninety miles an hour. Area of impact? The driver’s section.
The way time slowed down when it hit scared me the most, as I watched it slowly tearing the front half of the car away from the back seats. Luckily, the guy who did the hit and run got arrested and some friends helped to get me life, money and insurance compensation while I was in hospital. Up until the accident, I had been the result of many styles of bullying, one of which to the point that I couldn’t reach out for help. Those lasted the six years prior to the accident.
Some of the bullies eventually came forward when they learnt about the time I was taking in hospital, during my trauma period. That was while I was constantly fluttering in and out of normal trauma shock, and my almost permanent fight or flight feedback loop. Because of this, I was unaware of the injuries I had until the doctors were able to lower my unusually extreme amounts of adrenaline and anxiety coursing through me enough that I was able to finally feel the pain from them.
Not having many friends prior to the loss of my parents, due to consistent bullying, I’d gotten some friends while I’d been stuck in my own room for seven weeks. In fact, during the last five weeks there, I was visited by a number of girls who were worried about me. Turns out two of them were exes of the bullies who’d come forward. The visits had been allowed when I was finally stable enough to not be under any anaesthetics. Safe to say, I don’t want to be stuck in another event like that. Ever. Again.
Surprisingly, half of the bullies who’d admitted had had a chance to catch up with me while distracting me with videos of students doing dumb stuff and getting permission to play videogames with me. Some games had been restricted, which they were all fine with, not because of age but because they could trigger me. I’m honestly glad I was blessed with the friendship of most of these people.
But even though they were good at keeping me distanced and occupied from the thoughts of the crash, looking back on what has changed in my life, there will always be this unfillable hole where my entire family should be. Turns out my condition landed me in the newspaper for a month after I was allowed to leave, or in the words of my favourite doctor, “released back into the wild known as human society”.
My biggest surprise from this was the way the guys who’d visited had seen the state I was in and had helped with not only cheering me up by bringing me school work I’d completely missed out on, but helping out other teens with their work too. A few of them were surprisingly smart to the point of not behaving like a bully at all. Heck, even the tutors were astonished at how their grades went from poor grades like D’s and E’s, to B’s and C’s with a few A’s. I think they got berated by their parents.
As part of my weekly therapy, which started after my first panic attack during my second term back and ended a year after my course ended, I’d been tasked with recording all my thoughts and feelings into a four year diary. Designed specifically for my sake, which is amazing if you ask me. Looking over my latest entry, I flow back and forth to proofread and add or change anything I notice that’s either written wrong, or there’s something new to add that previously slipped my mind. That’s just how I think, though. Back and forth, trying to solve a problem from both ends.
Getting my latest entry off my mind, writing out memories that I seem to reminisce on a lot, it’s still mind-blowing how much it actually helps with keeping my anxiety down. Especially when I need to avoid panic attacks and keep any outbursts of anger in check. After my final therapy session, I still continue to this day to record some of my entries to their therapy cloud service, but keep most things to myself in a private and personal diary.
Being able to look back on previous entries of mine helps me to recognise when anything bad is going to happen when I experience anything that comes close to, or is one of these issues. I’ve no longer had anger issues, but I do still get very small panic attacks and emotional blank-outs. Finishing and saving the final entry, I proceed to look out of the large window from my lounge area. I have a desk near it so I can look down at the park while working on my own things.
Paying more attention, the park is vibrant with the noises of children playing loudly, noisy and busy cars driving by, the birds chirping and singing away to each other just outside of my little pocket of the world I call my home. I barely paid attention to the cop cars driving past, but the deep reverberation of a gunshot once they’ve gone makes me jump and the park go quiet. It takes a few more minutes for the park to regain some of its previous white noise, but there is a noticeable air that screams “something happened and I don’t want to be here anymore”.
Ignoring that, I sit there, with no work to focus on for my freelance jobs, thinking about what the next boring thing to do is for about ten minutes, before I hear a thump outside my apartment. I close down my laptop and head over to the door.
‘What was that?’
Living beside the staircase by the entrance, and next door to the lifts, my apartment sits perfectly in the corner of the first floor, facing the park perfectly, with an engraved plaque saying “Room C137”. Instead of ignoring it, I find myself heading down the little hall to my door, I peek out of the eyepiece, which is so blurry I can barely make out two young girls outside my door through it. Feeling frustrated that I’ve never got that looked at, I open the door to two young girls who’ve probably jumped from my actions. The girls and I just stare between each other, before loud voices start to filter up the open stairwell.
As I’m considering my choices to take them into the apartment, a deep, male voice makes an extremely disgusting comment about the two girls that I barely register, some along the lines of “pesky girls getting away” from him. and just let them rush into my apartment. Remember when I mentioned that genetics stuff about my past? Well, after I instinctively knew the voice of a guy with the wolf Ani-Beast Mutation, due to a few past experiences, angrily discussing with his “buddies” their plans as his voice drifted loudly up the stairs.
While they were momentarily halted, I did the stupidest and dumbest thing and that’s to spray my almost finished deodorant up and down the hallway, before chucking it against the slightly open door to an empty room as it finally emptied. The smell was strong enough to begin burning my nose, so I quickly grabbed the two girls by their hands firmly but gently and ushered them quietly into my apartment and into the spare bedroom furthest from the door before it could affect them.
My unusual behaviour leads to an unexpected success, as the moment I hear their footsteps reach my floor, I hear muffled voices become clear shouts of satisfying shock and surprise as the strong smells hit their noses. Hearing one of them point out the can, I hear them run down the hall into the empty room I threw the can towards, most likely searching like crazy before I hear them filing out of the room after a few minutes.
I released a breath I didn’t know I was holding after they scan up and down the hall for other rooms they assumed the girls must have made some kind of escape. These guys were known for being really bad, but at least I think they were respecting the other apartments that were likely being occupied. After their footsteps headed back downstairs, I finally spent the time to look at the two girls before me. Taking more notice of their appearance, I realise what the reason was for them being chased.
‘They’re both kitsune girls.’ I thought, honestly shocked as I took in the appearance of their ears and tails.
I’m frozen to my spot as we just focus entirely on each other, me while looking with incredulity, them with looks of fear being mostly replaced with confusion. After a long number of seconds, I bring up the courage to step past them and head for the lounging area. I noticed that the girls both move away and close their eyes out of fear of what they thought I would do, but I simply had no interest and walked past them. Just one train of thought crossed my mind as I slowly made my way over to sit down on the couch.
‘What did I just get myself into?!’
Chapter II - "Kitsune? More Like Kid-sune!"
I find that after a few minutes of leaning back and staring out of the window once more, the shuffling returns and when I look back, I find them on the other couch, the one I often call the shorter one placed somewhat perpendicular from me, but enough to view the television on the wall in front of me. I reach my hand up, only to get a highly anxious and tear-filled look from both of them as they lock up into their previous state.
‘So that’s how it is, huh?’ I keep to myself, placing my hand back on my lap, only to then immediately reach up to scratch an itch on my head nonchalantly.
While deep in thought, I subconsciously leaned into the famous Thinker’s Pose whilst sitting on the edge of the chair. As I stared out to the park, I listed the known facts and feelings of the current predicament I’m in.
‘Okay, so there’s the fact that not many people will take the risk of bringing in stray kids, let alone caring for them. That’s pretty much it, let alone them being ABM positive. That’s worse now that I think about it.’I get lost in my train of thought, not realising the older girl has reached for the remote and turned my television on until the channel changed.
Without realising, I must have been giving off an unusual vibe to them that meant “it’s fine, you can relax now” and the older girl’s instinct was to put some television programme on.
I didn’t need to see the television to guess that she’d put on a show of a cartoon with more animalistic versions of the people with ABM. I guess it was just great to watch something to keep their minds off of what’s just happened between us. My thoughts drifted from thinking of social stereotypes and bigotry to a surprising idea.
‘Why didn’t I think of that before?’ As the idea seeps itself into my head as I retrieve my phone from it’s charging place. ‘I wonder if I still have that note.’
I kept a soft focus on the girls, slowly but surely appearing more relaxed, but likely feeling worn out, yet wary and alert. I absentmindedly find myself watching the show with them before standing up to find the note of paper. Heading off to what I called the project room, I go through a few piles of written notes and business cards, unable to find what I was looking for. I bang my knee on the low table, that annoyingly juts out further than the taller one.
I was on my way out and immediately noticed the start of a name and the beginning digits of a phone number and took it with me back into the front room as I put the number into my phone. Sitting down, I finished putting in the number when my stomach rumbled loudly, but not loud enough to be heard over the TV. I have no idea why, but I find myself remembering some weird fact online I’d read about animals and food after I noticed them both licking their lips during a very enticing advert for a meal deal at a nearby fast food restaurant.
Ringing the number, it goes through and I’m about to start talking when I’m greeted with the hold tone. As I return to the couch and leant back into it, I watch the girls slowly begin to nibble then eventually scoff down the small ready meals and the two cups of soft drinks. I just used the last of my lemonade bottle, as there was roughly enough for three drinks left in it. I treat myself to a bigger ready meal as I listen to the infamous dial tone.
The number I’ve called is the direct line to a store for people interested in things ranging from toy props and costumes to professional cosplay outfits. The weirdest but luckiest thing about this, is that an old school friend of mine works there. She’s about a year younger than me, but is a very outgoing girl, with a contagious, bubbly kind of personality.
She’s known me for a long enough time to know most of my ticks and triggers for any overwhelming stress and anxiety are before I have any meltdowns. She’s lovely, and with open arms says she is a lesbian, her partner bisexual, whenever someone confuses her behaviour. I can remember seeing this happen when we were in college. I first met her other half about a year before, well, the you-know-what event, and I had managed to surprise both of them by sending them to a local restaurant that I’d somehow got some eighty percent off deals for.
Without a moment's hesitation, I bolt into an upright position as I hear the sound of the call connecting with a noticeable click and a slight trace of static as her voice comes down the line.
‘Hello, this is Emylia from Daydream Designs. What can I help you with today?’
‘Hey Emi, it’s me, Jacob.’
The brief sound of shock and surprise clearly makes its way down the phone. A bit unexpected when it’s filled with the sound of excitement too.
‘Jake?! That you?’ I hear her ask animatedly. ‘I’m so glad you finally called! You feeling okay?’
‘A bit worse for wear, but yeah.’ I hesitated just a little bit, as I pondered what to say next. ‘I’m kinda having an … unusual day today. That reminds me, are you busy later?’
‘Oh, huh. Let me find out, just gimme a sec!’ Her cheerful voice gets muffled and she is either humming loudly, or calling out to her manager.
Shy lives just down the hall from me, but she has a long work shift during the day, so there’s barely any time for her to get in contact with me or vice versa. Learning she was down the hall after bumping into her while I was arriving late to mine due to torrential weather. I didn’t quite know how to deal with the soaked shopping when she saw me look as if I was still trudging through the horrendous rainfall. I couldn’t believe I almost forgot about reaching out to her.
‘--kay, thanks.’ I hear an excited tone come from my phone, likely after she'd been talking with her manager. ‘Okay, so I’ve checked with Matthew, he manages the cameras, and then checked with Matilda, our boss. Today has been very quiet and so I was going to be let out earlier today anyway.’ A short pause follows. ‘Wait… Unusual how?’
‘Well…I just happened to be home when two very young, distressed girls appeared outside my apartment.’
In response to my comment, the fox ears of the two girls shoot upright in response when I looked their way. I couldn't help but find that a bit funny, unintentionally smirking a little in the process. I felt a bit worried about their appearance, but they seemed okay enough to be with me for a while. It didn’t take me long to realise she was calling my name through the phone.
‘Jake? You still there?’
I rubbed the back of my head subconsciously at the awkward moment, before I continued my train of thought.
‘So, you see, I was having one of my better days, when I heard a knocking on my front door. When I saw them, I could barely make out some gruff voices coming from the stairs and they looked frightened. I thought that the increasing volume and agitated tones wer--’
‘Sorry Jake, I’ll be right back!’
I was aware she was still working, so I didn’t question it if she needed to help out with someone. While I waited, as she most likely tended to her customers, I just sat there as the music on the phone returned, watching the two girls slowly but surely having fun skimming through the channels on my television.
As the music changed to a very early christmas song, I noticed one of the girls was beginning to look bored. As quickly as I could, I got up and took my phone with me. Luckily they were entranced enough with the television show on some kiddy channel that they didn’t notice me grab some pencils and paper until I placed it in front of them.
As the girls started drawing, I changed the channels to come across an interesting news report. Well, it looked more like a radio station with a camera feed so it was probably a live podcast airing channel. What caughty eye about this channel though, is a new release of a book in a series I used to read. I mentally facepalmed when I saw that I'd muted the TV, so I unmuted it.
‘--ell, I can’t reveal much, but I can say that I was inspired by things like a scene where the protagonists eat, like some of those crossovers we see in sitcoms and anime shows. When they make a holiday and something happens that they both are good at like a fight or a friendly sport match between them and there is a goal for both in common to win. I can’t reveal much more, but if you want to find out about it, please go check out my series in your nearest bookstore!’
I muted it after that and was watching the podcast talking to upcoming authors for only a minute when the music on my phone had stopped. The sound of a louder than normal “Hello? You there Jake?”, making me jolt a little.
‘Yeah, sorry. You made me jump.’ Which wasn’t a lie, I did jump at the volume on my phone which I quickly lowered, despite it being quieter previously.
‘So what was this story about these girls then?’
I got up from the chair and walked to the entrance to the kitchen, after the author on the TV mentioned that the upcoming novel was about
‘Well, as I mentioned before, these guys seemed to be after them, I can’t quite remember what they said, but they were definitely looking for these two girls. They looked so frightened and afraid of these guys so I let them in. They were terrified at first, but I managed to get them into my apartment and I hopefully broke the trail the guys were following. I think that was about ten minutes ago.’
A slight static came through the speaker as she listened to me have a short ramble about what happened. Intentionally leaving out lots of important details as I finished talking. She had likely been doing her anxious habit of dwindling her fingers in the cord of the phone while I talked, causing a little bit of feedback through to me.
‘Oh wow, that’s just … weird. Like, really weird.’
‘Yeah. Oh, and there’s one other thing.’
‘Really? What is it?’
Hesitation entered my thoughts when I realised I’d stared at the girls for a bit too long. I’m just glad my awkward staring was ignored by the two girls, who’d started drawing things from the previous show they’d been watching, but still not talking openly. I cracked a small smile, but the wave of anxiety hit me like a train once again.
Do I tell her about them?’
I mulled through my options, hesitant as the silence slowly got unknowingly awkward.
‘...Jake? You there?’
‘Yeah, sorry. I… Well, it might be best if I let you meet them first.’
‘Oh? Uh, sure. Hold on a sec.’
She sounded a bit confused at first, then really intrigued as the music came back on briefly. At least that’s how it sounded according to the change in her tone. I heard a yawn from the other side of the room.
‘Reckon you could meet me over in the park? I just got told we’re finishing earlier than normal today.’
‘Oh? That sounds great! When?’
‘See you in an hour?’
‘Remember to bring the girls!’
And with that, the call ended before I could get in a reply. I was still a bit unsure if her tone was flirty or not when she asked to meet. However, she was always one to keep to a promise between friends. Besides, I couldn’t dwell too much on her meetup request, as there was one other problem; getting to know the kitsune girls.
It took more time than I was expecting, but luckily the walk to the park would take under five minutes if I took the elevator. The initial thirty minutes since the call ended to get the two young girls to trust me. They did enjoy watching the cartoons, but were still wary and hesitant towards me. I don’t know what I did or how I acted, but the older girl of the two seemed to recognise that I had been trying to help them the entire time.
It also helped that they were finally relaxed enough to feel sleepy. However, it had taken another fifteen minutes for the younger, black haired girl to come around from her little nap. The blonde one, the poor thing, just sat there rubbing her eyes, trying her best to stay awake. I guided her towards the bathroom so she could wash up.
While she was washing up, I couldn’t help but feel warm inside when the younger one finally came up to me, with her arms outstretched. Watching other families in the park, I believe this was called the “Pwease can you cawwy me?” gesture. Reluctantly, I picked her up and began carrying her when I noticed the time.
‘Ah crap. We’re gonna be late.’
Knocking on the door, I’m almost immediately met by half of a shocked face of right as the door slowly creaks open rather loudly, before I grab the handle and close it. The little glimpse of her startled face told me exactly where she was.
‘She wasn’t done in there either.'
The text was from Emi.
[EMiLoveBun: I’m here. Where are you?]
I immediately started to reply.
[JBlakesley: WE’re on our way - don’t wry. Give us 5min?]
[EMiLiveBun: No Worries! I’ll wait here. got me an ice-cream! ;) <3]
Knowing that she’s just being playful, I sent back a laugh out loud emoji and a “see you soon” message as the other girl finally finished in the bathroom. The girl immediately grabbed my hand as I walked out of my apartment. I heard someone I thought I knew, possibly the neighbour from earlier, coming up the stairs and immediately stepped into the elevator. Heavens knows what they’d say if they saw me with the girls.
As quickly as I could, I rushed into the elevator as her clacking of her heels came up the stairwell. The likelihood of being caught was increasing, but my breath I didn't know I was holding was released as the steps receded in the other direction, away from the girls and I. The dread hit me full on when the doors opened and about thirteen people looked my way.
Luckily, I’d raised my hood up while coming down the lift. It was a relatively new hoodie, so I wasn’t questioned by the residents I recognised from just under the brim of the hood over my eyes. I think only one or two recognised me, because they immediately looked away after we traded eyesight as I stepped out. Keeping a casual but steady pace, I began to notice the little one by my side kept inching closer to me whenever I got too close to someone, so I stopped.
‘Would you like to join your sister?’
A sullen nod was all I needed to pick her up like her sleeping sister. She was a bit heavier, but not a weight I could handle. I have been visiting the gym lately, a bit more than usual, and paid the little extra weight with no attention as I carried both of them towards the park. I sensed some lingering looks, so I turned back to find those feelings disappear. Not all, but pretty much a majority of them.
I could feel my phone buzzing in my pocket. It wasn’t until she noticed me walking over to her, with both girls now asleep in my arms. Instead of ignoring the ringing, I woke up the older girl, carefully placing her on the floor as the phone stopped buzzing.
The girl clutched my leg as I felt Emi call me again, this time I can actually answer my phone. I don’t know why but as soon as I took the phone from my pocket, the little girl clutched my leg tightly while looking up at me with sleepy eyes. I felt my face soften briefly before picking up the phone after rubbing her head.
‘Hey! I’m glad you picked up!’ Came the nervously excited tone of Emi’s voice through the phone’s tinny speaker. ‘I’ve been waiting ages! Where are you?’
‘Hello to you too Emi! We’ve just passed the paddleboat area. Hopefully we’ll be near you soon!’ I replied, keeping a slow pace.
‘Oh goodie. Wait, I think I can see… you... ‘
I stopped to look around. It took about thirty seconds before I noticed a set of eyes staring at me in shock. I couldn’t help but smirk as I walked over to her. Looking a bit cuter than I remember, Emylia had shoulder length blonde hair, tipped a bright, neon pink on the last three or so inches. Another thing I noticed, is I don’t remember her being so … well, how can I put it? “Busty”. She definitely has a great figure, since our last encounter, but I’m pretty sure I would remember her having a “set” that size.
‘I’m a guy, so what, I’m allowed to notice these things!’ I found myself thinking, my ears warming and feeling a tiny bit itchy at the tips.
Reaching up, I massage the itch in my ears as best I could, while I forced myself to forget the thoughts racing in my head. I definitely remember now that she liked to tease guys who don’t know her as well as some do. The last time we met was after a really painful episode about a year ago. That was when I was introduced to her girlfriend.
You guessed it, she’s a lesbian and her girlfriend was bisexual. And in terms of support, I was all for it. Mainly because there was a grumpy old git, Michael something, who used to live opposite them. He’d tried to use his beliefs to separate them and get then evicted, but was given any extremely stern warning by the tenant, who didn’t tolerate such behaviour, and a room on the other side of the floor in our building.
I can somewhat remember him saying he didn’t want to lose one of the “benefactors” towards the renting in his apartment block. It still angered me whenever I saw him, walking down the corridors of our floor like he was on patrol for “naysayers”, but being an old military veteran, we all let it slide as long as he doesn’t speak openly to others like he did to my friends.
Seeing her advance towards us snapped me out of my little flashback reverie, as I pocket my phone as I felt the young girl tighten her grip around my leg, as if to hide herself behind it.
‘Hey Jake! Long time no see!’ Her voice sounding much better in person than over the phone, made me feel relaxed enough to lower my hood. ‘Aww! Who are these two cuties?’
As she pulls her phone out, I give her a stern “really? Now?” look, which she quickly notices. After a few seconds, we burst out laughing at each other's antics and a weight I didn’t know I was feeling lifted from my shoulders for just that brief moment of us being ourselves.
The look on Emi’s face went from happy and relaxed to shock and surprise. Guessing where she was now staring, I think her reaction was because of either their ears, or their tails. I’m guessing the latter, as ears are relatively hard to distinguish between.
‘That doesn’t look entirely like a wolf tail... wait, they can’t be... are they kitsune girls?! ... Well, more like kid-sune girls!’
Chapter 3 - Unusual Tendencies
A loud rumble of the young girl's stomach and the position of her ears told both of us that she was rather hungry. What made it cuter, was when she emphasised her arms clutching across her belly.
‘Sowwy. I’m a little hungry.’ She mumbled as her cheeks became erubescent.
I reached over and began scratching behind her ears. She leant into my touch, before moving away and covering her mouth in surprise. At that moment, I’d heard the sound akin to a cat's purring. Emi and I both stared at the girl in surprise as her face went from the warm glow to a strong red in embarrassment.
‘It’s okay to be yourself around us, sweetie.’ Emi cooed to her, pulling her hands down from her face gently.
The way her eyes went from a distant look to sparking brightly, made us “aww” at how cute it was. When another gurgle from her stomach told us otherwise. The mute girl snuggled into my left arm began to stir from her sleep, rubbing her eyes as a long yawn came from her mouth.
Keeping still, I felt her jerk a little, until she saw me looking at her. With a warm smile, she attempted a very small smile back as she hugged me around the neck. After a few seconds, I help her move around to sit on my lap, like her sister on Emi’s.
As she started taking her surroundings in, I could feel her become anxious and more alert. But before she could panic, I gently wrapped my arms around her. I felt her relax by leaning into me, before both their stomachs rumbled loudly. Immediately followed by their erubescent faces.
‘Right, It’s definitely time for some food for these two.’ My friend said, ruffling the hair of the girl on her lap, then tickling her sides a little.
‘Hehehe! Stahp!’ She cried with laughter, as she squirmed in her lap.
‘Right, I guess it’s time to find us some food.’ I remind them, as we pick up the young girls. ‘You hungry, little one?’ The girl in my safe embrace nodded.
Walking around, I realised there were many places to eat. I was hoping that there was a suitable place for not just them to eat, but for the two of us as well. It took a short while, with the growing shadows of trees and buildings across the park before we stumbled across a place that felt almost perfect.
Walking in, the warmth of the store immediately hit the four of us. We were also greeted by the strong whiff of fried chips and grilled meats adjoined with the ambient sound of food being cooked openly with the soft rumble of idle chatter around us. We stood in the queue, Emi and I openly discussing a random topic about superheroes.
The group of people in front must have had a large order of some kind, because it had taken a good ten minutes or so before their meal was served. After we’d stopped talking and just stood there in silence, the good kind that is, a sudden and very loud cough from behind startled not just me, but both of the young girls as well.
I watched Emi turn on the edge of my vision towards the rude expelling of air, while the little girl in her arms visibly shakes out of fear. As if noticing my gaze, she immediately starts to reach for me. Before I could say anything, everything became a rush of colours as Emi handed me the girl as the group ahead of us finished and collected their order.
There was a slightly heated discussion behind us as I walked up to the counter, both girls squirming a little in my arms. Luckily, the staff member was a lot more welcoming than the rude woman from behind us. However, I had barely noticed a glint of the same “stink-eye” hidden behind his expression the woman had, but as he began serving us I could tell he was experienced with kids. Well, either that or he could see how stressed and worked up the three of us were from the woman behind us.
‘Welcome to Donneli’s Diner. What would you like to have, young one?’ His joyous tone grabbed her attention and I felt them relax a little.
It had been fairly warm for the time we were out and I noticed the blonde girl was staring at the strawberry ice-cream. Her eyes showed worry and doubt, but I could feel her tail swishing every time she looked at that flavour. Unfortunately, the younger girl had fallen asleep in my other arm again, so I didn’t get the chance to order her anything.
After getting a small platter for myself, I also ordered a small tub of strawberry ice-cream for the young girl. I let her sit down beside me as I gently placed the sleeping one on my lap. It was a few minutes before Emi came over with her food.
‘Hey! What took you so long?’ I asked when I saw her upset face.
‘I had a bit of an argument with an anti-ABM believer again.’ She huffed, as she sat down beside the very hungry girl.
I could hear a loud voice echo through the large interior, getting my attention. Turning to look towards the entrance, the source of the noise, it seemed like the woman was having issues with the two staff members talking to her. I noticed there was a man watching from the stairs up to the toilets and staff area.
'-o! I want to speak to the manager! This is outrageous!' The angry tone of this woman seeped through the entire diner, to the point that it was less than half the volume it had previously been at.
'Ma'am, I am the owner of this place and I will say to you once again you are forbidden for your vulgar language and behaviour. I have already called the cops and they should be here any minute.' The man replied, who’d walked over from the stairwell, his barely noticeable American accent accentuated in his frustrated tone.
As she sat outside the diner, it took me a moment to notice a red patch on Emi's cheek when I looked back at her. I was infuriated at the gesture, but too cowardly to do or say anything about it. I watched as she kept rubbing at it, before a waitress came over with a piece of cloth in her hand. A drip of water fell from a corner of the cloth as Emi took the cloth with a “thank you” to the waiter.
‘I am so glad someone finally stood up to that customer. She’s been harassing us for months ever since they started hiring us ABM folk.’ The young woman blurted, as she began showing off her ears and tail, albeit discreetly.
‘I just didn’t like the fact she was making specist remarks towards these lovely girls.’ Emi replied, scratching the head of the young girl between us.
A sudden shuffling in my arm was the sign of the other one waking up, but this time, I felt her kerk and stiffen in fright. Looking at her face, I could see the stains of tears covering her cheeks as her eyes radiated with fear as she quietly clung to me tightly. I could barely hear her sniffling into my shoulder, as if to hide her tears.
I think my friend noticed as well, because she got out a small napkin from a pocket and reached over to wipe her tears away. The little girl didn’t fuss about it and stayed still as her face was cleaned from the salty mess.
‘Poor thing. She must’ve had a bad dream.’ my friend whispered in my ear, as she cleaned up the last few streaks.
I felt a tugging on my side, followed by a set of adorable eyes. It felt weird being around these kids. I wanted to care for them, but I knew nothing about parenting and everytime it crossed my mind, it felt like it was going to be hard work. I don’t know how hard it’ll be to care for these two alongside myself, but a few thoughts that skittered across my mind started to form into a small plan. I hoped she’d say yes to the thought of, while I’m on the hunt for a job, being my exclusive babysitter. The thoughts were hesitant, I just couldn’t say no to those adorable eyes.
‘Hey Emi, I’ve got a question for you.’
‘Yeah? What is it?’ She replied, sitting back with the girl who’d just finished her sugary treat.
I hesitated at the immediate response.
‘... H-How would you like to be a temporary babysitter?’ I felt like I was about to regret asking, when her eyes lit up as the awake girl stared in surprise.
‘That would be wonderful!’
Her rosy cheeks and her warm smile released an unexpectedly huge weight on my shoulders. I hugged the girl closer to my side, getting a stifled giggle in the process and a loving hug. We sat and discussed the terms of the babysitting, while the two girls played what looked like a game of pattycake between themselves.
~ # ~ # ~ # ~
The afternoon was one of those days where it was relatively free of other ignorant and entitled people having a go at someone for being different to their “personal norms”. The girls were looking rather sleepy as we both walked back to our, well, my apartment. The day had been relatively easygoing, which was an honest surprise for me, but my anxiety had been reduced simply by the interaction with the girls and with my good friend Emi.
I could hear Emi teasing the young girl, as she kept yawning every now and then, until she nodded off against her shoulder, just like the younger one in my arms. Upon reaching the elevator, a young black lad managed to slip into the elevator at the last second. Luckily, I knew him and his mother. Pretty much everyone knew anyone who lived in this building.
‘Evening Johnny. How’s your mother doing?’ I asked, rubbing his head with my free hand.
‘My mother is doing fine. She’s struggling to get around the apartment lately, so I’m getting her shopping for her.” He replied, lifting the shopping bag I hadn’t noticed he was carrying.
‘I hope she’s doing okay.’ Emi murmured, as she glanced at me worryingly.
Johnny’s mother Augustina, or as she prefers, Tina, had moved in a while ago, back when the smart lad before us was about the same age as the girls. Emi had known for a while longer, but during our talk, I’d gotten the news about how Tina has another baby on the way. It was a shock, but as a small community, we helped out one another. That way she was able to relax while her friends and neighbours were tasked with helping her out.
‘Well say to her from us. We hope to hear from her soon!’ I added, exuberated at the thought of him having a sibling on their way.
As he slunk off with the two heavy bags in each hand, I was always reminded of how strong he could be one day. Then let my thoughts wonder as I felt exhaustion seeping into my body and relief building up as we approached my apartment. The door was slightly ajar, which I mentally cursed myself over, but didn’t have to worry. Nothing was misplaced or overturned, but I did see a hand-written note from someone saying it had swung open while they strode past while I was out and had tried to shut it without a keycard.
As the two girls slowly made their way into the large social area, Emi noticed their growing tiredness and led them to my spare room, annoyingly with a bed larger than my own. Seeing her taking care of them like how a babysitter had distracted the thoughts from the note in my hand. While reading, I was hit by a little wave of worry, followed shortly by even more relief as I groggily read the page-long note from the neighbour.
I need to rest my eyes a little. I groaned mentally, placing the note in the trash as I eyed the empty sofa being bathed in a sea of gentle and warm colours from beyond the windows. Just a little power-nap and I’ll find myself feeling better.
A few sparrows were lined up on the edge of my balcony, and I began counting them until my eyelids started feeling heavy. I felt a caring, somewhat warm set of eyes land on me briefly, but I was too tired to care as I dozed off thinking of random names for the sparrows that flew off sporadically from my viewpoint.
Instead of feeling worried or stressed by the events of today, I strangely found myself feeling a little bit of contentment as I drifted off into a world where all I had to worry about was keeping my feet on the floor.
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