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Proper Goodbye

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Ogata walked home with Takashi the day before he was set to move again. The sun was setting and he enjoyed the companionable silence, grateful she hadn’t shunned him. He wanted to thank her before he left, but he didn’t know how to.

Ogata broke the silence first. “So it was because of what happened, right?”

She was talking about the windows.

Takashi understood why they wanted him gone, no one wanted what they thought was a delinquent in their school or their home. He understood, but it was still frustrating.

Takashi was trying to smile, but she seemed to see through it.

She faced him, “It wasn’t your fault.”

Takashi knew that. Ogata knew that. But it wasn’t enough to convince everyone else. She had stood up for him and he was grateful, but that wasn’t enough to stop them from hating him.

“Work isn’t going well for them. They don’t have the time to look after someone like me.”

She smiled, hopeful. “I’m sure you’ll get somebody nice next time.”

But then what? Takashi thought. The pattern hasn’t changed, why would it next time?

“They’ve all been nice up until now.” They didn’t have to take him in. “No matter where I go, they always end up hating me.”

Because they can’t see what I see. They will never be able to understand what I know. What did I do wrong?

“By people, and by them.” The smile had fallen off his face. Takashi felt like he was telling her too much. Ogata’s eyes were on him, waiting for him to explain, to confirm what she already knew.

Takashi knew what she wanted to ask: What do you see? If she had prodded him a little bit more, he would have told her everything. Maybe it was because she had tried to help. Maybe it was because he wanted to pretend she could understand him.

He would tell how lonely it was to be the only one who could see, how afraid he was of the monsters.

But she didn’t. In that way, she was like the others. She was too scared to take that last step over the line that separated Takashi from the rest of the world.

“Not everyone hates you. I know because I watched you.”

At least there was someone looking out for him.

“Thank you, Ogata. It was kind of fun here. Goodbye.”

Takashi turned and walked away. He could sense there was more she wanted to say, but he had said his share.

At least this time around, Takashi had gotten a proper goodbye.