So this was less than ideal.

The kid and I were sitting at the opposite end of a table from a little girl who was looking at him with an expression which could only be described as the transliteration of the face of a pug onto that of a vaguely Japanese-looking 8 year-old in response to an odd question.

She blinked a couple of times and shook her head once before she opened her mouth and with the type of insensitive innocence that only a child could have she spoke in a tone which was... Well, for lack of a better phrase, the kind one used by loving families when reminding ancient grandparents that yes, they do in fact have grandchildren and yes, they are perfectly healthy, and yes, you are peeing into a bag.

"So you're nuts?" She asked in one of the most candid ways I have ever heard through this kid's ears. She pulled at the twintails at the side of her head as the kid's face turned sour. He didn't particularly like being called insane. He knew for a fact that he had someone living in his head and that other people only had VOICES inside. He was perfectly sane. The people who were 'nuts' were completely different.

"No, I have someone in my head." He explained with the measured tone and patience that could only be learned from watching too many British television shows about exasperated parents being superseded by pushy nannies. "People who are insane have voices. I have a person."

The girl curled her little chubby fingers around the braided hair and tugged once or twice before shaking her head twice in a sharp fashion. Apparently she was not exactly pleased with the persistence. She turned her nose up and spoke, "You could not fit a person in your head without missing something in there. People who don't have all their brain aren't right in their head so I am right."

She was obviously not having any of Cai's nonsense.

"My dad told me that people who aren't right in the head can be dangerous." At this point I had started to notice how she carried herself and couldn't help but be amused. As she continued on explaining the faults of people with 'deteriorating mental capabilities' (which was a phrase she was butchering) it was starting to seem clear she was just paraphrasing people. It would explain the overwrought expression and the long and seemingly prepared statement. It was easy enough to see the signs when Cai himself did the same thing when explaining myself to other people to the best of his abilities.

While she continued on the kid looked around the room for something interesting to distract himself from the droning. The girl was too caught up in herself to notice this and continued on as he picked himself up from the floor and walked over to the window to his right that had darkened slightly with the passing of a cloud. It warranted investigation if only to put some distance between him and his friend-to-be.

A step stool which was placed in front of the window so that a kid could look outside without the possibility of falling from the umpteenth floor provided convenient access for Cai as he pressed his nose to the glass. They were high enough up off the street that they could see fairly far across the ocean ahead, and to the sides to see the walkway which ran alongside the street towards a park far to the left. It was a nice view but I had a sneaking suspicion that it would grow a bit old after a while. The ocean was nice but it WAS just an open body of water.

As he watched the passing of the clouds I conjured a couch to recline on and leaned back, temporarily blocking out the sights and sounds that Cai was hearing, a skill I had refined over the years. I would have found a lot more use for it back when he was a toddler and frankly disgusting but every once in a while it was rather useful to be able to just ignore everything. I didn't do it very often when he was out and about simply out of concern that he would do something stupid out of impulse. It was more out of some sense of paranoia than anything else since I knew that I couldn't do anything directly to assist the kid.

Over the four years since he had finally discovered me the attempts to try and get a stable form of communication developed had all fallen through. Why? No particular method appears to work. Whether it be an impulse I am trying to impart onto him, a thought, a meaning, an action, none of it seems to get processed in a useful way. He just get's turned in that same damn direction. At least now he has developed a bit of an immunity in that and no longer gave himself whiplash from me pointing out something. It was a bit more useful now since he could just take the impulse as a notification of sorts and from time to time we could actually get something done with my poking of his cerebral cortex (or wherever I inhabit). It was limited, and it was inconvenient at times, but it was what we had to work with.

His mother was still an annoying bitch. Not related really, just thought I would throw that out there.

By the time I was done reminiscing the girl finally decided to tune back in to the real world and notice that Cai had moved on from his place across the table. It was surprising she could be so disconnected from her surroundings while claiming Cai was somehow mentally deficient. She had the situational awareness of that one relative that can never read the mood of a room, cracking a fat joke while at a heart-disease awareness group. From what I have heard. The kid and I hadn't had an experience like that since the family was mostly dead. Small blessings and all that.

Cai was still looking out the window so I gave him a mental poke to let him know the girl was done and somehow he managed to interpret the message correctly. He hopped backwards off the step stool and turned around to look at the irked girl. At least this time her expression seemed her own as opposed to a poor copy of another's. Fortunately Cai was able to speak before she could find an appropriate attack quotation to use.

"That was boring." He said as plainly as he could. He couldn't really say that honestly because he hadn't stuck around to wait for any intriguing developments one might propose while insulting another's psyche. I didn't blame him though and the reddening of the girl's cheeks in embarrassment was well worth it. "I'm sorry for not listening to it all. You were repeating yourself and I felt bad for you."

I nearly fell off my couch with the way the kid was speaking. Completely lying though I had to give him props for realizing that the girl's speech was canned and probably wouldn't remember what she was doing during the reciting of it. I got some rather mean amusement out of that and despite myself found mylips curling into a smile. Good kid.

Unfortunately for him and to my glee the girl was not having any of that and wasn't falling for his ploy.

At this point I nearly howled with laughter when the girl literally snarled.

It didn't fit the image that she was trying to show of herself despite her young age. She seemed a bit too youthful to be feeling envy for those who were over a decade older than her but taking a look at how she carried herself and the room she slept in it was clear.

It had none of the cliche softness that one might expect in the abode of a little girl, lacking color and without a mirror in sight nor toys of a sort. One could make the argument that she was not a 'girly girl' but since she lacked most anything one would list off as a common item for a kid it was looking pretty clear she wanted to be older. Her books were ordered nicely but were a bit dusty so she obviously wasn't reading them, the entire room was a slightly mute blue which was something you'd expect from a book-y teenager, the list went on. It was somewhat odd.

The way she was dressed was almost comic in how much it added to that image. She wore a set of khaki's that came up to the hip and a dark blue blouse that puffed at the shoulders and came down to mid-forearm. It gave the impression of 'office secretary' something fierce. But it was all canned, definitely something within her envied or wished to be someone older than she actually was.

All that only made it more amusing when the girl snarled out loud at Cai. The expression, the sound, her stance was the most genuine of everything she had done and it was refreshing. Cai seemed to be thinking along the same lines but it looked like he hadn't caught onto all of it. He actually stepped back a bit away from the girl to put a little bit more distance between them. He was a resilient kid but his exposure to female fury was limited and it still cowed him quite easily.

"I was not doing anything like that!" She said with indignation. "I practiced that like a million times before you came here. It was perfect."

"A million times?" Cai asked as the girl reddened further with her mistake which she had only just caught. She coughed quietly to fill the short silence and she looked like she wanted to fade into her mutely colored surroundings.

"At least I'm not nuts." She grumbled under her breath and while the kid tensed for a moment in response he recovered well. Knowing that he currently had the upper hand with the girl being a bit quiet as she was now must have given him the strength to not start an argument. Kudos to the kid.

I shifted from my position on my couch before realizing that I was going to actually relax for a little bit. With the girl now neither actively insulting Cai and the kid not facing any imminent fury I relaxed again. As his eyes shifted around the room I sent him a little nudge as the gaze landed on the table. Nodding in understanding he walked over and sat himself down where he had before and motioned for the girl to follow.

When they were both seated there was a pause which neither seemed willing to break. It was weird to see kids so young so tense but they hadn't exactly gotten off on the right foot. Neither had actually introduced themselves to the other so they were without a name to use, instead they got into an argument about the kid's insanity.

Not a great opening topic in my honest opinion.

"My name is Kaoru."

The voice was quiet, reluctant and belonged to the girl across the way from us. It didn't look to be the beginnings of a friendship that would last through the ages but it was a start. I rolled over and allowing myself to fade into the darkness of my cage finally got my rest.

By the time I had 'awoken' the kid was already on his way back from this girl's house. He was riding shotgun with his father driving them from the coast back towards the bay area for a bite to eat before turning homeward bound. They weren't speaking, but at the same time we weren't that far away from the house yet so I was willing to guess that they hadn't spoken at all yet. They were often content to remain quiet for periods of time that made ME uncomfortable. It was just the way they were.

When they came to a stop outside a mall they waited without opening the doors. As usual the father wanted to broach the subject of the day but was terribly awkward at doing so, leaving the kid to recount his day for him.

"She's not terrible." Was Cai's opening jab once a tiring five minutes had passed. The statement wasn't begrudging or anything of the sort. Just... A statement. The type one makes to placate the people they had to for the sake of making things easy. "She has a good memory."

"Oh?" The father replied, his tone wavering a bit. "Your mother said that she was a bit of a hard cookie."

Here we go again. Unnecessary conversation. The dad was a good man and most the time he was a bit more talkative than this but when it came to topics he was bad with (kid's stuff) it was hard to get him on a line of conversation.

Cai briefly recounted his somewhat unfortunate first meeting with the girl and their chat after that which had gone on for a while before Cai wound up asking about the neighbourhood. As he spoke and the temperature of the car began to slowly rise I blocked out most of the boring conversation to focus on the moving groups of people outside the car.

Downtown was always busy, especially around the bay area and certainly in the summer when most the visitors from around the world, or even just from the mainland, would arrive and wander about the 'historic' city. Most stayed near the waterfront just down the road from us and only walked a couple blocks up the side roads to look at the souvenir shops and dine at the restaurants and pubs. Here, just outside one of the candy/souvenir shops which catered to any number of Maple Syrup-tasting and moose-themed items, it was easy to watch the people come and go, their eyes casting about to take in their surroundings before moving on. Most smiled, some laughed, but for whatever reason it all looked... Boring? No, like though this was 'important' it wasn't something they would remember all that clearly. Even those who were taking photos were... Too quick in a way.

A woman walking down the street with a friend on her hip would giggle and point at something along the other side of the road, a person or maybe a sign, but would just as quickly move onto something else. Everything in the moments, maybe even the minutes before, was lost. It was like they were moving through the city with only glancing looks, their eyes skimming over everything and never resting for more than an instant. It was... Different.

Despite the fact I had slept through some of the more boring minutes of Cai's life I did spend a lot of my time watching the things around him when I was awake, be it the sights, the sounds or something else. It was to make up for the fact that I couldn't see any of those things again without some circumstance completely beyond my control, it was required of me to commit something to memory quickly before the moment was lost, lest I lose all of it.

And that's where the rub came from I guess. Since I didn't have the ability to see these things on my own I was forced to make the best of my few moments in sight of beauty or something similar. That thought roused me and forced me from my resting place so I could walk accross the floor and towards a shelving unit which laid against a blank and undefined black wall. The coffee table in my way dissolved and resolved itself as I passed through it and crouched down to one of the lowest shelves.

I had passed some time while the kid was at school furnishing the nothingness with room that looked like it came out of one of those home decor magazines from stores. It was mostly black with harsh white in contrast and the lack of any light made the depth of the room rather odd honestly. I could make new rooms easily however this living space was where I passed most my time.

A couch of different styling but always white was center of the room, a few inches in front of it was a white coffee table which was often ignored. Across from that was the 'shelf of memories'. An overly dramatic name but the best term for it. I reached out and picked up an angular 'vase' which was one of the few colored objects in the room.

It was crimson, or something similar in tone, and as I lifted it up it lightly shone before I reached in with two fingers to pull out a petal. Carefully placing the vase back I walked through a doorway to my right and out onto a balcony which overlooked the vast nothingness below me.

I stared into it a moment getting my bearings before lifting the translucent petal between my index and middle fingers, squeezing a little as the flesh of the plant material gave a bit under the pressure. It was smooth but veined, cool but soft. A perfect imitation.

It was all fake of course. I had learned earlier on that it was easy to recreate memories as long as I had an associated form created for reference. It could be a faint marking on that black wall, a word the kid would use often, even a bump on the damn table. But it all felt like nothingness. If I put that little effort into viewing my few precious memories it felt like it was trivializing them in a way. Mocking the meaning in a way. That's why the dramatic setup felt necessary. It was to honor a memory with meaning. Some might consider that just being overly dramatic by doing that which was unnecessary. I would tell them to fuck off, they can make new memories in the places they wanted to see. I didn't have that. I would honor my few precious memories the only way I could, with ceremony. Even if it was fleeting.

I snapped my fingers and with that the petal disappeared along with the sound and the blank nothingness was filled with the image taken from the breakwater. It was from the height of Cai of course and taken during a walk they took along that area. There was a path one could walk from a park all the way along to the breakwater and docks and it was all nice but there was something about standing on a concrete monolith on the water which was much more intimate than watching it from shore. Gulls flew behind and the water broke against the concrete below in a noisy spray of water that leaped for the edge of the walkway in a cacophony.

It was refreshingly real-feeling despite it being very obviously only a recreation. I leaned on the railing of the balcony and stared out into the ocean for a while, the memory eventually jumping to another section where the kid was looking back across the water of the 'bay' and at the parking lot farther on. In the distance a line of trees shading the passing vehicles from the harsh summer sunlight and they blew in the somewhat strong wind that was coming off the water. Nobody looked to be making use of the shade, probably because of the proximity to the traffic coming and going, and the lack of a path leading there. Even still I wanted to walk over there and in my youthful spite felt a spark of anger directed at the kid.

During this time despite the fact I had accepted my fate I was still prone to moments of anger directed at Cai. Often this stemmed from the exact same situation as I was then, an inability to exist outside my cage. It wasn't anyone's fault from what I could tell that my current situation forced me into... Less than desirable circumstances but it didn't make it any easier. I still wanted to cry out about it but was stuck, forced into submission by nothing in particular aside from the very state of my existence.

Eventually the set of memories I had collected ended their recording and my eyes were yet again met with nothing more than the emptiness of nothingness. I looked at my left hand and seeing nothing I almost felt the need to play it out as if the memory was lost forever, which it wasn't. In an awkward combination of bitterness and embarrassment. Nobody could see what I just did but at the same time it felt childish. I knew why I was doing this, acting out something which could be done with ease and less effort, but it didn't stop the occasional moments of self-doubt.

In that moment of oddity with a thought my hand filled with countless flower petals, all identical to the one I had cast out minutes before. They towered in a haphazard pile but though they would have easily fallen over or be blown away in the real world they sat in their pile here. I tipped my hand and with that they fell out of form towards a bottom which I only lazily determined in this directionless void. They fell, they fluttered, and eventually disappeared from my sight, and thus from my mind, and thus out of my egocentric reality.

Still happy with the memory but conflicted over the thoughts that followed I reentered my corporeal place of residence and started to tune right back into the 'real world' through Cai. I found him and his father 'chatting' (as well as the two of them could be doing so) about their respective days still. Apparently the father had managed to actually bring up some talking points and the kid was actually speaking well of the girl without referencing any of her odd tendencies. He seemed to be currently on the topic of what they would do the next time they meet, which seemed ordained by the unnatural way his mother had forced the two together. She was looking for someone to quell the voice, or so it seemed, by making the kid interact with someone who was having none of that nonsense.

Cai had managed in the past to gain some friends, if temporarily, in the first couple years of schooling. He was only in the interim period between grades two and three but that was more than enough time for the tempestuous childhood friendships of the young age to grow, wither, and die. And be rejuvenated by some seemingly random act or another. It could be his unnecessary initial severity which made him seem initially 'cool' to people (though the term 'cool' might be misused here), but his propensity to speak very plainly about the 'lady in his head' sometimes got him... Odd looks. Imaginary friends were not too uncommon before school started, or in the early years from what I could tell, but people admitting to having one when they were in grade 3 and as... Strict? as Cai made it seem odd. I could not blame him and it wasn't like he was entertaining a fantasy, he did have someone living in his head. That he could barely see when he tried hard enough to pass out (indeed there were some attempts at that) and was forced to live with my somewhat irritable temperament (which he never dealt with directly of course).

After a while he got tired of the revolving door of the friends-that-weren't-quite and gained the somewhat unfortunate practice of introducing me before he did so himself. I thought it was nice because it meant at least he recognized my existence enough to give me presence in the world if only through his words. It was sweet, kind of. Sort of. It had cost him a couple possible friends and despite the fact I had some immature jealousy I didn't want to be the reason he was pushed out of social circles.

Fortunately for him it seemed that the girl was not going to immediately oust him because of his oddity. Since I slept through the better part of it I don't know what they talked about but based on the kid's conversation they didn't get too hung up because of me. Good for the kid and maybe good for me too.

I sat back on my couch and looked up at the ceiling, breath pushing through my lips in a sigh as I entertained a silly thought.

Maybe one day someone will get to meet me. It better be her, maybe I'd get to shut the kid up just by being around... But as I thought those things I realized in the jumbled mess that I didn't know what I would do if I really was 'alive'. It was something I couldn't even imagine, the thought of having air around me instead of an unfeeling vaccuum.

To be able to have the perspective one gets with participating in life.