Category Linkin Park

The Second One by Violet Raven


Hello, citizens of LPF. This is my first attempt on Linkin Park fanfiction. Also, it's my first attempt to write a story in English as it is not my native language, so please be kind. The idea for this story came to me on one sleepless night and it reflects on a time when I was in a really dark place and nothing seemed to help. Then this person unexpectedly came to my world, and they were like a beacon, guiding me back into the light. It was meant to be standalone, but I just kept writing until it was too long, so I'm gonna divide it into two parts. Enjoy!



It’s staring right at me, as I stare back into it.

I have no idea how long I've been sitting here like this. Time doesn't mean anything to me these days. These last few months. It could be morning, or it could be a dead of night and I would never know.

It doesn't matter to me anyway. Time goes on only in the life of the living. I no longer live.


"Happy 21th birthday, dude!" Brad's fake cheerful voice slices through the darkness. I can hear one, two, three rushed steps from the door towards my direction and suddenly his thin arms are around me and the smell of his hairspray is invading my nostrils and his wild jewfro is tickling me on the neck as he gives me a hug.

I jerk my head away angrily. He can't be serious. What is there to be happy about?

"I told you not to come, Brad," I tell him coldly. It works. His arms around me slacken and he takes step away so we are not touching anymore. I turn around and head back to my room, using my arms to trace the walls. I'm so slow. It's frustrating. I still keep my eyes closed. It gives me a touch of my normal life back. It's normal to not see anything when your eyes are closed, right? As long as my eyes are shut, I'm completely normal. Right?

I can only guess he is giving me an incredulous look as I distance myself from him. "But dude! It's your fucking birthday. We have to celebrate it properly."

I can't believe my own ears. Have I gone deaf too now? I laugh a little, but there is no happiness in it. "Well, and how exactly do you plan to celebrate? I can't see a shit. We can't go out to the bar, we can’t go skateboarding, we can't play basket, we can't play videogames or even watch a movie. We can't do anything. There is no reason to waste your time with me."

"It's not a waste, bro. You are my friend. I like spending my time with you." His voice is small. "And definitely we have to celebrate your birthday. You’re only 21 once. Let’s get drunk. Or we could... we could just talk?" He hesitates a little at the end of his speech.

"I would gladly celebrate only if it were my 100th birthday instead. Then it would mean this is gonna be over soon," I hear my own bitter tone and I want to kick myself for it. I hate being so weak.

There he goes again. I feel both his hands grip me by my shoulders. "The fuck you talking about man?! Don't you dare to say this again!" He actually shakes me little.

My eyes shot open and I tear myself away from him. "You think I wanna live like this my whole life?!" I hiss. "Sixty fucking years or even more?! When I fell from that damn skateboard, it's like I’ve been thrown into a prison. And I've got a life sentence, Brad! The sooner it's gonna be over, the better."

He doesn't say anything. I feel the movement of air which means he started to walk away from me. My anger goes away as quickly as it came. I feel like a lowest form of life on the Earth and my eyes start prickle with tears. He doesn't deserve this shit. He's been my best friend since we learned to walk and the only friend that stayed loyal to me despite my disability. Slowly all of my other friends found it too uncomfortable to hang out with me, they started to make up elaborate excuses why they cannot visit me. Those lazy slobs suddently became busiest people in the world. They only call me on my phone every once in a while and usually try to brush me off as soon as possible. So when I called them to announce they shouldn‘t bother with visit today, that I don't feel like celebrating anyway, they were more than happy, all of them.

Except for Brad. And here I am, doing everything within my powers to get rid of him too. How long is he going to take it? How long until he realizes I'm not worthy to stick around for? How long, until I lose what I don't deserve anyway?

I release the breath I was holding in. Slowly I reach out my arm and start my irritatingly slow way towards the kitchen from where I can hear noises. I stand in the doorway. There is no sign he noticed me coming after him. I bite my lip. "Brad?"

Nothing, just the noises. I realize he is collecting my dirty dishes into the kitchen sink as he prepares to wash them.

"Brad," I try again.

The noises disappear. Somehow I know he is looking at me and I shift uncomfortably. "I just try to help you," it sounds like he is saying this with gritted teeth.

I simply nod. I don't say what is ringing in my head - that I don't need, or more like don't want his help. I don't apologize for being a dick. Instead, I let go of the comforting solidness of the wall and take a step in his direction. "I know."

The tap water starts to run.

"Brad, stop cleaning. Please. Stop cleaning in my house." I take another step.

"Why", he murmurs. He does not sound furious anymore. "You don't wanna talk anyway."

"I can clean in my house by myself, Brad. I can manage." Uhh, what kind of answer is that? I want to kick myself again. Why won't I just say I'm sorry?

He snorts. "No, you can't. Your place is a fucking mess. So I'm gonna help out a little."

"I don't wanna be even bigger burden that I already am."

The water stops. He comes to me and places a hand on my shoulder again, this time there is no anger in it. "I will stop cleaning in your house, and stop cooking for you, and stop buying and bringing you groceries... if you let me hire an assistant for you."

I shake my head. We had this conversation so many times before.

"That is my only condition. I will stop to waltz around you all the time if you let me get you a personal assistant to help you with things. Then I will stop bothering you so often."

"You don't bother me, Brad," I say unconvincingly. "And I don't need an assistant."

"He wouldn't be just some kind of a housewife. He would take you out whenever, wherever you need. He would help you to find orientation again. He would help you to train your other senses to compensate the sight."

I open my mouth, but he doesn't let me interrupt him.

"One condition. Only this one. And then you can stop worrying about being a burden. And I... I can stop worrying about you."


"We're going out today. There is a lovely warm spring weather outside!"

The sound of the tinkling. He is opening the blinds on my window. I can feel the slight warmness on my face as the sun finds it way inside my room. But the night in my eyes stays.

I feel like screaming at this annoying man that came uninvited into my little dark world and is now trying to drag me out of it. I gladly would fire the assistant only if there wasn't that simple condition Brad made. 'I will stop to waltz around you all the time if you let me get you a personal assistant.' I curse my so-called friend for what seems like the hundredth time.

I know the assistant doesn't deserve my prickly behaviour. He is a good guy. Patient and cool, funny even. He almost, almost managed to make me laugh a couple of times. And for some reason it's much more bearable to have him around than my own friends. I wonder why is that?

The answer comes to me right away - because he is simply doing his job. He isn't sacrificing his own precious time. It's not a courtesy that keeps him here. It's not a guilt. It's not a sense of responsibility. He simply gets paid and then returns to his own life, no hard feelings whatsoever.

I hate being a burden for my friends. I hate how uncomfortable they are around me, I hate these awkward silences. I hate their panic when they realize they started a sentence with "see" or "look“. I hate how they feel like they owe me something, simply because I lost my sight... and they didn't.

Then the familiar wave of guilt rolls over me. I know they mean well. I know they're just trying to help me. Deep down, I realize that me retreating into my room and refusing to speak and meet anyone will be my doom if I keep doing it. But I can't help these feelings. I want to be alone. I want to stay in this tiny apartment until I rot. Becouse coming out would mean that I lost.

It would mean admitting that I'm blind, entirely blind, forever and ever blind. And I can't have that.

"I'm not going anywhere."

"Yes, you are. Your friend didn't hire me so I could watch you lay in the bed all day long."

"Well, then tell Brad to give you your money, and then leave me alone. Problem solved."

"Hiding from a problem isn't a solution."

I don't even bother to answer that and I just turn around in my bed, so he is facing my back now. Because the only answer I could give my assistant isn't the one he would like to hear - that there isn't any solution to the darkness surrounding me.


„Now drive me far away





"You really like this band, don't you?"

The singing ceases. "Sorry, man," I can hear him from the neighbouring room say with a small chuckle.

"Nah, no need to be sorry, I like music too. It's just interesting that everytime you clean around the house, you listen only to these guys." I stop for a moment and the faintest smile crosses my lips. "And you always sing along to this particular song while cooking."

I can literally hear him grinning like crazy. "You have my deepest condolences. I'm surprised you haven't fired me yet."

"I don't mind. I like the sound of your voice. You should've been a singer, not waste your time with people like me."

He ignores the last part of my sentence. It's the game we've been playing since he first came. Unlike Brad, my best friend, my assistant always ignores the self-hateful and self-pitying remarks I make. I never told him, but I respect him for this even more.

"My favourite audience is you anyway." Again that light chuckle. Why is he always laughing? "And also, you are the hottest groupie I could possibly wish for."

I can't help but crack a smile. The jokes like this are completely normal with him. It took me a few weeks to get used to them, but eventually I found myself liking this crazy dude.

"To be a groupie, I would have to drool over your looks, ya know?" I shot back at him.

Suddenly his voice enters my room. "There is nothing to drool over, trust me. Besides, you are the one who looks like a rockstar here. What’s up with all those tattoos?“

I turn my head to him. Or at least to where I think he is. "I always loved them. I used to say that one day I'm gonna look like a walking human canvas."

"Do you have a favourite one?"

"Not really, I love all of my babies equally. But Sam liked the flames on my wrists the most."

My heart pinches when I mention her name. My fiancée. Ex-fiancée. God, I loved her so much. I thought we were going to spend our whole lives together. I thought she was the best thing that ever happened to me.

She left. She told me she doesn’t want to throw away her life by spending it with a blind man, and left.

My companion’s voice returns me to reality. "Truly the rockstar look. Forget about drooling, I’m the groupie here. Actually,“ he adds with a comicly sad voice, „I’m too ugly to be a groupie.“

I snort. „Bullshit, someone with such a hot voice cannot look bad. I wish I could…“ I trail off.

The light touch of his warm hand on my shoulder. "You OK?"

I shake my head as if to get rid of the original thought and then nod to his question. "I just realized that you are first."

Confusion. "First what?"

Suddenly I don't feel like telling him. But I still whisper: "You are the first person that is only a voice. That doesn’t have a face that belongs to it."

His strong fingers on my shoulder grip me. "So I am first?"

"Yeah. If I don't count the doctors and nurses in the hospital."

Short silence. "To have a first one... you also need to have a second one. Unless you want me to be not the first, but the only one." He makes a pause. "And to find a second one, you need to leave your house sometimes."

That bastard is fuckin‘ clever.

„I’m not going out there.“

„It’s not nice to refuse my date invitations again and again, man!“ he does that childish voice and I know he is probably pouting and I can’t help but laugh a little.

„Not today, okay? I’m tired.“

„So tomorrow then.“

It’s not a question. He is stating a fact. I bite my lip.

„Maybe,“ I whisper. „We’ll… uhh, you’ll see.“


With a loud screeching sound, the gates of my little world open. That sound gives me goosebumps all over my body.

Suddenly, the crescendo of the world of living invades my ears. Footsteps. Cars. People talking, laughing. I reel from the power of it all. My heartbeat skyrockets and I feel the sweat forming on my body.

„Joe“? I whisper barely audibly. I hate how my voice sounds, it’s so pathetic.

Firm grip on my left arm. „I’m here, man. I’m right here. Com’on, let’s go.“

I take few steps. Short, careful steps. I almost don’t realize that I stretch forward my free arm as if to protect myself from harm. I don’t touch anything. I don’t feel anything. The blackness around me is thick and sticky.

Some child laughs, on the right from me. I jump a little, it’s close and loud. Something, something, moves really fast in front of me. Rolling of the wheels. The sound seems so familiar to me - is it a skateboard? It’s moving so fast! What if it’ll hit me?

And then, the thought is here, stronger than before. I can’t do it. Not now. Not ever.

I don’t wanna belong to that invisible world.

„Joe,“ I almost choke on his name. „Take me back in.“

„But we just got out?“

„I can’t.“ I hyperventilate.

„But –“

„TAKE ME BACK!“ I scream. I slip out of his grip and turn around, few hasty steps in the direction we just came from and –

Where is it? Where is the door? Where is my house?

Where am I?

Tears finally start rolling down my face as I desperately, uncoordinately wave my hands in front of me. The dark is making me insane. Never before I had felt such an overwhelming want to cease existing.

His hand in my shoulder is like an anchor.

„I’m sorry,“ he whispers. „I’m sorry. It’s okay, Chester, it’s fine. It’s normal to feel like that. Tomorrow… tomorrow you will be better, you’ll see.“


We don’t go anywhere tomorrow. Or the day after tomorrow. Or another day after.

I’m too busy wallowing in my self pity to care about the world outside.


It starts raining during the night.

My sleep has been really light since the accident, so I wake up, confused what is going on until my sensitive ears take notice of the quiet, soft hum.

I reach out my hand and tap on my speaking alarm clock. „10:20“ says the flat mechanical voice. I run a hand over my face. It was supposed to be a small nap after dinner, and ended up as sleeping for five hours straight. I definitely won’t fall asleep again now. My head hurts. I’ve been sleeping too much these last days, only leading to bigger fatigue.

I get up and find my way to the window. The blinds are shut, as always. It doesn’t matter that sunshine definitely won’t disturb me in the morning. It’s just scary to think that someone could see me in my room, while I can’t see them.

I open them and touch the glass. I can feel the coldness seeping into my hand. It’s strangely comforting. I want more of it, so I proceed to open the window, and a night air hits my face. As I just stand here, enjoying the fresh air, I realize something. The sound of the rain on various material… slightly differs.

Hollow clapping on the rooftop of the house I stay in. Soft swashing on the grass. More distinct splattering on a concrete pavement. That metallic sounding tapping, that must be cars in the parking lot, right?

My inner sight visualises the familiar street where I‘d spent my whole life.

The comforting whisper of trees in the park on the other side of the sidewalk. I can hear the raindrops, accelerated by a wind, hitting a steel pole of street lamp near my window, and plastic surface of waste bins to my left.

It’s all there.

My heartbeat speeds up a little. Is that possible? Is it possible to use something as ordinary as rain to create a map in my mind?

It is. I can see - I can hear how the world around me looks like. For the very first time in months, I don’t feel like swimming in a black swamp. For this one fragile moment, it’s like I can see the outside world crystal clear.

My breathing becomes erratic. I wanna go there. I need to go there.

I turn my entire apartment upside down until I find what I’m looking for – my new speaking cell phone. I used it maybe once, twice? Partly because I still didn’t learn Braille too well and memorize where is which button is really hard without this. It takes me frustrating amount of time to write the number I had in my mind.

He picks up on the third ringing.


„Joe? Can you come here now?“

„What happened, Chaz? Are you okay? Are you hurt?“

„No, no, I’m okay, I’m fine,“ I silence his nervousness. I hear him exhale, reassured.

„Cool. So what’s going on then?“

I falter a little. This is really selfish of me. He is home, probably having a good time with Karen, his girlfriend. And here I go, ruining his night. „Nothing, forget it. Sorry for bothering you.“

„Bullshit bro, tell me what you needed. Or did you just wanted to check on me?“ he says in lighthearted tone.

I bite my lip. „It’s raining.“

„So what, you wanna go dance naked in the rain?“

„I wanna go out.“

„Awwww, are you finally accepting my date invitation? That’s so cute! Gimme ten minutes to make myself pretty, I‘ll pick you up.“ He hangs up on me and leaves me laughing with surprise. I swear that guy is crazy.

Quickly I find my wardrobe and pick up the first pair of jeans I find as I slip them on. Then t-shirt, thick hoodie. I have a little problem with finding socks, until I realize I was grabbing on the wrong shelf.

Doorbell. He’s there. He has keys, but he always rings before stepping in, so I know he’s here. Nice gesture.

„Should I know what made you change your mind?“ He asks with the laugh in his voice.

„Just take me out there, please.“

And so we go. The same as before, he holds my arm and leads our way. Door screeching. Wet sound as we lay our feet on rainwater stained doorsteps.

I hold my breath, and against my will I sense the fear. The previous attempt was a disaster. What if this will bet he same? What if sounds of the unknown attack me again? What if I get lost the first second I let go of his arm? What if… what if…


I snap out of my fretting. „Huh?“

„Stop it. Whatever it is you’re thinking, stop it and let’s go.“

He’s right. Again. Bastard. How is it possible he’s always right?

First step. And then second. And third. Water splatters around under our shoes. Every single step is clearly audible.

Aside from the mellow voice of raindrops, the neighbourhood is dead silent. There are no cars and if I can say, no people either. Which suits me just fine. I hate the idea of people watching me while I can’t even know it.

Like in a trance I follow my assistant across the street. Once I almost trip over the curb, but manage to steady myself. The walking outside is much easier than I ever expected it to be, and I suspect it’s thanks to the rain that lets me know about every object that could be in front of me.

It’s amazing.

The surface under our feet changes. „Are we in the park now?“

„Yeah,“ he replies. „We just passed that hideous yellow bench.“

I just nod. I know where we are.

We stroll the pathways of the park for quite a while. Eventually I find us standing on what I suppose is a small children playground in the middle of the park. I can feel the sand under my shoes and I hear swings moving in the slight wind. I motion for Joe to let go. For the first time without the support, I take few steps forward, immediately rising my hand, using my ears to locate what I search for, until I feel the wet cold chain in my palm. I let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding, and sit down on the swing.

„Wanna wake up your inner kid?“

I laugh at his comment, my laughter cheerful and bubbly. „Not really, no. I just wanna… listen to the world for a while if you know what I mean?“

„Yeah,“ he replies softly, it’s almost a whisper. „I know.“

Neither of us knows what to say next. It feels like there’s something that needs to be done. It’s him who breaks the silence and points it out. „Do you want me to let you alone for a bit?“

I inhale sharply. „Uh… I mean, yeah, but, I don’t know whether I can find a way back on my own or not.“

„Don’t worry, I’m gonna pick you up here again. Meanwhile, I can go check on Karen. I’ll return in... how long do ya wanna be here?“

„1 AM,“ I blurt out before I can stop myself.

„Okay.“ For a moment, he sounds worried. „If you need me earlier, you have a phone with you, right?“

I nod. "Hey, Joe? Thank you for doing this. You didn't have to, you know?"

"I know, but I would be one shitty assistant if I didn't."


"Anytime, Ches. Anytime."

And just with that, he takes his leave. I’m alone. Outside. I sense a touch of fear and grip the swing chain so tightly one could think it’s a safety rope. For me, it kinda is.


I don’t know how many minutes I’m sitting here like this, with empty head and warm feeling in my limbs, but at one moment I notice it stops raining. What surprises me the most is the fact that I can still hear the world around me. Trees are making enough noise for me to visualize where I am.

I lean back a little. I made it. I’m here, out of my shell. It makes me almost lightheaded, like if I release my vice grip on the swing chain, I will take off and fly away. I feel amazing.

Then suddenly, I hear the footsteps from the left.

My head shots up as I concentrate on the unexpected sound. What is anyone doing out so late in the park? Aside from me, of course. The steps are light and muffled, so he is not walking on path but probably on a grass. Somehow, I know it’s him and not her. How do I know it’s a guy and not woman is beyond my comprehension, but I just know.

Is it Joe? But it’s too early for him to return, right? I quickly check my speaking watches. It’s 11:25.

The guy stops not to far from me. Seconds pass and there still is a silence. Is he looking at me?

With a painful sting, I suddenly realize just how vulnerable I am. It’s night, I’m sitting in an empty city park only with a stranger who is acting suspiciously, and I can see nothing. My heart skips a beat and I fear a rush of panic overwhelm me. What the hell did I thought when I told Joe to leave me here? What if he is some kind of a psycho? What if he’s gonna murder me or something? Or rape me? Or both? Gosh, what if –

„You don’t see me, do you?“

His voice slices through the air. It startles me a little. It’s young sounding, probably around my age, low and husky and somehow comforting. Susprised, I find myself relaxing immediately.

I shake my head in the direction of the stranger in response of his question. I want to ask who he is but he’s faster. „I... this is gonna sound weird, but I wanted to ask if I could draw you.“

Without meaning to, I frown. „Draw me?“


What the hell?

„Uhm, I think I don’t get it?“

He surprises me with a small, short laugh. But somehow, I know he’s not laughing at me. It’s a friendly, pleasant sound and I feel my heart squeeze a little, for reasons unknown. I just know that I want to hear it again.

„Sorry. I’m a street artist. I like to capture real people doing real things.“

„Do you think that grown-ass man sitting on a swing on kids playground is a real thing?“ I haven’t intended to make a joke, but somehow it found a way out of my mouth.

He snorts. „Well, you are here, aren’t you? It’s as real as it gets.“ Pause. „So… do you mind?“

„No, not at all. Feel free to sketch my ugly ass all day long.“

He laughs again and I congratule myself for it. I hear him come closer as he sits on a bench usually used by parents supervising their kids. The zipper undoing. I guess he’s taking out his sketchbook. Shuffling of the pages. He’s ready.

I seriously don’t know what’s gotten into me. I thought I hated the idea of people watching me, and here this weird guy wants to ogle me for hours and I gave him a permission. But for some reason it doesn’t bother me. It actually sounds like fun. I sit more comfortably and find myself starting a conversation with a stranger.

„So… you do realize that you didn’t have to ask, right? I mean, you could’ve draw me and I would never even know.“

He chuckles. „Right. Me staring at you for hours without your knowledge. Not creepy at all.“

I smile. I like that he’s not behaving all awkward around me as most people tend to do. It seems to makes it easier for me to talk about my disability. For the first time, I’m able to talk about it without the heavy bitterness in my voice.

„I appreciate that. One that I don’t understand tho is… isn’t it like a middle of a night?“

„Almost, yeah.“

„And you can see in the dark?“

„We’re sitting right under a streetlamp.“

„Oh. Right,“ I murmur shyly, embarrased. I forgot about the damn thing. „Anyway,“ I continue, to mask it, „why would you go around drawing people at this ungodly hour?“

„I’m insomniac,“ he replies with a hint of seriousness. „It helps when I take a walk before going to sleep, so I made it my habit to spend every night in the city, practising my work. Besides, it’s so calm and peaceful... What about you?“

„My first time outside,“ I blurt out.

He goes silent for a brief moment. „You mean… since you lost your sight?“

I nod. „I’m not blind that long. So it’s easier to practice orientation when there aren’t many people around. Not so much distractions and noises,“ I explain. Why do I feel so okay with telling him this? I know him for like ten minutes!

„I see. Why tonight though?“

„Cause of the rain.“

„Are you one of these people that like acidic cold water on their body?“

I chuckle. „No. I… I don’t know how to put it… I just woke up to the sound of the rain and found out it helps me to locate… things. It helps me to realize where I am, what is around me, how far from me it is, what material it is made of… It felt so strange. I never could’ve imagine something like that is possible.“ I trail off, reliving the joy of my revelation. „It was almost like I could see again.“

I can hear him smiling. I know that sounds weird, but I really can. „That sounds amazing,“ he replies softly.

„So it was.“

„So you live nearby?“ he questions me further.

„Just outside the park, yeah. Couldn’t go too far anyway. My assistant was already home and it was late, so it was just his courtesy to take me here.“

He sounds surprised. „Couldn’t anyone else take you here?“

I shake my head. „I’m pretty sure it would be the same with all my friends.“

„What about your parents?“

I go silent for a while. „They are not around anymore,“ I finally say.

„Shit…“ he murmurs quietly. „I’m sorry.“

„Don’t be.“

With that, the conversation ceases. In my head, I return to that day. The tired faces of my parents. The heavy rain splattering on the windshield. The screeching of wheels. The loud crack and dull pain in my head as world faded to black.

I’m grateful when he speaks up again. „I’m sorry,“ he repeats. „I didn’t mean to intrude. It’s none of my goddamn business.“

„It’s fine,“ I reassure him. „It’s been a long time ago. I don’t mind talking about it. I just turned 18 when it happened. We were going home from a family visit when this car crashed into ours.“

„Did you -“ he clears his throat and starts again. „Did you lose your sight back then?“

„No. That only happened few months ago. We were in a skatepark – me and my friends – and I tried to do a double kickflip and… well shit went wrong. I fell and hit my head.“

„I’m sorry,“ he whispers for the third time. I just shrug. That’s it - I’m pretty sure he will start to feel uncomfortable around me now, and will try to leave as soon as possible. Just like everyone else.

But he doesn’t. Instead, he informs me that he already has my figure done, and now he is gonna do the shadowing. I smile absentmindely. I’m glad he didn’t just got up and left. I don’t know why, but I feel so good in his presence. Again and again, I must remind myself I just met the guy. There is some aura radiating from him that makes it so easy to forget that. That makes it easy to open up to him. I’ve never done that before – just start talking about my personal stuff with a complete stranger. Maybe… maybe that’s why it is so easy? He is a stranger. I can dump all my feelings on him and know he won't use it against me or judge me. We just go our different ways afterwards, no strings attached.

„Awesome,“ I show him a thumb up. „I wish I could see that though. I mean… I know you can describe it to me, but that just ain’t the same. I wan’t to know what technique you use and stuff.“

„Hikari to kage.“


He must notice my confused face cause he elaborates. “It means ‚light and shadow‘. It’s a drawing technique in which you make emphasis on the contrast between lit surfaces and shadows they cast. When I saw you, sitting directly under that lamp, it seemed like the best option.“

„I see.“ I give it a though. „You said ‚hikari to‘…“


„Yeah. What language is that? Is it… erm…?“

„Japanese,“ he saves me from embarassing myself by saying some nonsense like Chinese or something.

„Cool. So are you Japanese?“

„My dad is,“ he explains. „But my mother is American, and I was born here.“

„Seems like you are pretty proud of your heritage.“ It’s not really a question, everyone could feel it.

„Pretty much, yeah. Though it’s not easy to connect it with being American too, you know? I mean… I was born here in L.A. Well, in Agoura Hills to be exact. I feel like American and everything, but… I also feel the bond with the land of my origins, you know? Sometimes, it’s almost schizophrenic.“ He seems so fond of explaining it to me. And I definitely have no problem with just sitting and listening to his smooth, melodic voice. I like the sound of it. It’s so… so beautiful? The fuck are you thinking, moron? If I could slap a thought, I would right now.

Not realising I zoomed out on him, he continues. „I was raised as a catholic, cause of my mum, but my dad also taught me everything about shintoistic gods and mythology and traditions. We celebrate Christmas and Easter and all the ‚normal‘ holidays – but we also celebrate Japanese traditional holidays. We always held the Golden week – it doesn’t matter that U.S. companies don’t ackowledge any custom like this, dad just refuses to go to work in these days and won’t let me, mom or my brother either.“ He cuckles a little at this. „And we also celebrate Obon, we always make a big family meeting and together we remember our ancestors. We went to Japan once, and visited Hinami festival. I don’t wanna sound cheesy or anything, but seeing thousands of blossoming sakuras is really a sight to behold…“

He just goes on and on. I totaly lost him here, ashamed to admit I have no idea what is he talking about. He probably notices, cause he stops talking. I immediately miss the sound of his voice. „Sorry,“ he says with a sheepish tone. „I should stop before I talk a hole into your head.“

I laugh. Does he really think I mind? „Don’t worry. I admit that I understand like a half of what you’re saying, cause I’m such an uneducated ass, but it’s really interesting. So continue,“ I offer him a wide, happy smile.

„Do that again.“



Nervous, I shift on the hard plank under my butt, but I still raise corners of my mouth.

„I think I should redo the drawing,“ he whispers. „You have such a beautiful smile.“


The silence that follows is heavy. My heart speeds up a little. I open my mouth to ask him and –

„All this running around

Well it’s getting me down

Just give me a pain that I am used to…“

Startled nearly jump up from my seat. Is he listening to Depeche Mode? Damn. That man got tastes. He curses and silences his ringing phone by picking it up. „Yo, Rob. What’s up?“

I have no idea who is he talking to, but decide to use the little break to calm my racing heart. Why that little remark he said shook me so much? He didn’t mean anything by it. He‘s an artist, for God’s sake. He probably said it just because he appreciated what seemed to be the best for the picture.

That idea makes me upset for some reason.

He says ‚bye‘ to the other person which sends me back to the present. „That was my room-mate,“ he informs me. There is some problem, I didn’t really understand what he tried to say but I gotta go.“

„Oh. Okay.“ Do I sound so disappointed to him like I do to myself? I feel my heart swell up a little. No, don’t go, not yet.

„I didn’t finish the picture tho. So… do you have time tomorrow?“

Hell yeah I do! „Sure.“

„Good. Here, the same time?“


He picks up his belongings and starts his way when suddenly he stops in his tracks and turns to me. „It’s probably gonna sound awkward now,“ his voice reaches my ears. „But I’m Mike.“

I give him another smile. „Better late than never I guess. I’m Chester.“

„Chester,“ he repeats, his voice distinct in the night around us. „I like that.“

And with that, he’s gone. All that’s left of him is a faint scent of cinnamon, flushed cheeks and deafening beating of my heart.


„Ches? Are you okay, dude?“

Joe sounds worried when he returns and finds me leaned back on the swing, gazing to the starry sky with my unseeing eyes open wide.

„Joe,“ I whisper, not facing him, ignoring his question. „I think I found him.“

„You found what?“

„I found my Second one.“


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