I wrote this a while back, but...
Every day, at 7:23am precisely, a 15-year-old girl with hair as pure and white as a dove's wing arrives at bus stop 17. She always has the same book in her hand, the same bag on her back, and the same expression on her face; loneliness. Her blue eyes immediately start reading, and that's where she stays until her bus arrives. No-one ever with her, always sitting alone, though it doesn't seem like she even realises. That she doesn't care.
Like her own life doesn't matter.
My palm rests on the 477th page of my book - the same page that I had been on for too long to count. Days? Months? I could never tell. Did I want to know? It would determine the time left. Would I ever know?
No. It will be too late.
I watched from afar. She always sits there, in the same spot. Shiro. Why does she look so alone, yet feel as if she is surrounded by thousands of others? Why does no-one approach her? Why - even though she has been reading for as long as I've come here - has she never turned a page? Why do her eyes carry the weight of the world in their depths? Always sitting there, eyes blank, as the world seems to slip away from her, and she is swallowed by something else. Like a virus, it courses through her, overwhelms her, absorbs her. Each day, she seems more lifeless.
And I just watch.
No-one approaches me. Until this boy. Why? What does he see in me? What do I see in him? He sits next to me, and smiles. He's smiling at me. For me.
And I can't help but smile too.
I've now been talking to Shiro for a week, and she's more interesting than I ever thought. She won't tell me about the book, though, no matter how hard I try. "Why won't you finish it?" I once asked "Will you ever read to the end?" Shiro smiled at me, her white hair like snow on wintered tree branches "Does a book have an end after all?" I stared at her, my blue eyes wide, before Shiro stands up. "Almost everything has an end, Kuro. Everything but a book". And with that, she leaves again, always on the wind. Will I ever catch her? Will she let me catch her?
It's getting worse. Now I can only faintly see some of the text. It's falling away from me, leaving the page like the world left me. I'm trying to read it, but I can never catch up to the words disappearing so fast, telling me it's no use. I've been running my whole life, and now I'm running out of breath faster than I can breathe it in.
She isn't here. Where is she? She's always here. But not today. At 7:30, she finally arrives, head down, book clutched under her arm, a man wearing black standing beside her. "Shiro?" I call out, and the girl glances up at me. "Does a story ever complete itself?" She calls back, and I can almost see her eyes glistening with water, refusing to fall down. The man puts a calloused palm on her shoulder, and leads her away, towards her bus. She seems smaller than before, like a caged bird. I'll set her free, soon. That's what friends do, right?
I told him yesterday. I told him about my eyes, my mother, her book... Even as I was telling Kuro about the disease, I could only just see his face. His hair was just a black spot in my vision of other blotches of dark colour. His eyes were two faint blue orbs staring back at me. "I don't know how much longer I have left!" I stuttered, tears falling from my clouded eyes "It's okay, Shiro, I'm here for you" Kuro said, placing a hand on my shoulder. "Just keep trying"
"I've been trying my whole life, Kuro. This is it."
The page is blank.
I sit there, waiting for Shiro to come. She's never here on time anymore, it's 7:25 already. Her figure comes into my view, and she stands in front of me. The man is not beside her. Her hands are behind her back. "Shiro?" I ask, and she looks to her side, like she can't find me. "Shiro, I'm here" I hold out my hand, and she takes her's from behind her back "K-Kuro?"
I can see what's she holding.
A long, white cane.
The world is nothing to her anymore, and I'm just a patch of faint shadow in her life.
I'm always grateful for Kuro being so supportive. Every day, before school, he's always waiting at the bus stop. He doesn't judge me. Kuro opens the book to page 477, and places my cold hand on the words he's reading. My cane rests next to me, and then I hear an intake of breath. I rest my hand on his shoulder "Kuro?" I ask, and I feel his body turn around to face me "What if a story is never told?" I ask slowly. I can practically tell he's smiling "Then I'd tell it for you, dummy" He laughs. And even though my world is black, it's like I can see colour again.
Shiro says she can have another chance. A risky surgery can save her eyes. Save her world. The disease is already spreading, she says. Next it will be her ears that leave her. The sound. Then how could I read to her? We've almost finished her book, only a chapter left. I told her I'll read her the last page after the surgery.
"Then we'll know the ending"
"But what if I don't make it?"
"But what if I don't?"
"You will. You know one other thing that doesn't end?"
Shiro walks up to me, using her cane steadily. After four weeks of using it, she's become pretty efficient. I smile, and grab her hand gently, guiding her to sit down at the bus stop. Her hand is cold. Tomorrow is the surgery, and I want to wish her good luck. But how?
Shiro looks up at me, her clouded eyes sightless, but still carrying more than I can imagine "Thanks, Kuro!" She smiles, and wraps her arms around me "I know I'll make it, and then we can find out the ending together." I sit there, unsure of what to do.
She's changed so much.
I like to think I was the one who did it, but in reality, I'm just another patch of human in a world too big for one girl.
So I hug her back.
And can't help but smile, too.
Every day, at 7:23am precisely, a 16-year-old boy with hair as dark and black as a raven's wing arrives at bus stop 17. He always has the same book in his hand, the same bag on his back, and the same expression on his face; loss. His blue eyes immediately move to the cluster of lilacs in his hand, and he bends down to the same level as the seat. Resting the flowers on the far left of the bench, he opens the book to the back of the front cover, and leaves, wind rustles his dark hair. The book stays there, for no-one would dare touch it, until the end of the day, when the boy returns. He turns to the back cover, and adds a sharp, thin line next to hundreds of others - 364, now becoming 365. A year, and he's still alone. Still mourning. Still broken. Still missing a person he never truly knew.
"Do you think that a book has an end after all?" He whispers to himself, a single tear rolling down his face Do you think someone's life has an end after all?
"Does the story ever truly complete itself?" Does the sadness ever truly subside?
"What if the story is never told?"
What if I told it for you?
Then I'd always love you
For those who read this short story:
This is dedicated to my friend's brother Julian - a courageous person with a heart of gold. No matter what, he would help those who seeked it - and in return, was extremely loved. Being around those unwell took a toll on Julian, and he sadly passed away a few years ago. He will always be missed.
Shiro: Meaning "White" in Japanese
Kuro: Meaning "Black" in Japanese