On the way to school, Al walked on the one path he always took. He had both hands in his pocket. He was by himself, as expected. It was a chilly morning of December, though no snow had fallen in the quiet streets yet. Al had his jacket(part of the school’s uniform) lying freely on his left shoulder, as if the cold did not matter to him at all. His eyes were looking straight ahead without any hesitation, like he was strongly determined, or else he just did not have a care in the world. He passed by a few other students, who were walking on the same path in pairs or groups(and were chatting joyfully), and ignored all of them. People gave him strange look.
“Who’s that?”, one of them asked her friend.
“Shush…that’s “That Al”. he’d hear you from there.”, the other answered anxiously.
“You’d get killed if you ever mess with him, he’s dangerous…”
Conversations like this would happen every single day and he would hear it, unfortunately. Another mob consisting of ignorant brats, thought Al, why don’t they just disappear and die?
only spending a couple seconds resenting on who talked behind his back, Al did not stop a single step. He was too used to it, after all. The distrust he had in humanity ironically became his “strength” to be immunized from rumors, misunderstanding, and hatred. He continued to walk, until he felt something touched his back. He stopped.
“Urgh…”, it was a girl voice behind him. Enne, the girl from his homeroom class. She had long dark-brown hair tied perfectly to the back. She was skinny and not very tall, probably only to Al’s chin if she ever stood up straight and tightly. Al did not bother remembering or even recognize his classmates, but he happened to know Enne for over ten years so it was nearly impossible to forget. They grew up in the same orphanage.
“What is it?”, Al replied impatiently while turning around to face her. She backed up a little bit and started looking at the ground. She always did that. “Say it if you have something, I don’t have whole day for people like you.”
His eyes matched hers when she tried to look up, but she looked down again. Her face was flushed along with the enhancement of her extraordinary anxiety.
“Can I…”, he stared at her with a even sharper sight. Then, she raised her head to face him again. “Can I walk with you?”
It was a strong and determined tone that came out of Enne’s mouth. Everyone on the street was looking at them. Al, finding no excuse to refuse her request, nodded to address his approval. He did not want to worsen his poor reputation in the school any further.
Al turned back and continued walking. Still overwhelmed by the unexpected happiness, Enne paused for a while and got left behind.
“What are you doing? You were the one who mentioned it.”
Realizing that Al was going away without her, Enne jogged to catch up with him.
“Y-Yes!”, she finally closed up the distance between them to as near as near as where she could easily touch him again if she reached her arms. But it’s fine, she thought, at least I’ve made a step forward today! They walked together–Al, leading the two, remained expressionless whereas Enne followed happily from behind, almost like a puppy and its owner.
The naive smile on Enne’s face did not disappear for the rest of the walk, though Al did not turn back or even talk to her anymore.