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You’re the apple of my eyes but I like my apples sliced

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In the same vein, there is more surface area on a broken material. A broken heart will have more surface area of love because the entirety of its vessel is cracked and broken. The act itself allows more love to leak out than it was originally capable of holding.

 

That being said if the heart breaks so often and so much. Is there anything left for it to hold?

 

(Redacted) made by (Redacted, Redacted) 

 

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Her arms burned. They always burned. Ichie should’ve gotten used to it by now— she wasn’t. She never was. The rain drenching her coat, gravity forcing the water to line the edge of her hood, to flow and trickle to the lining. She would make a comparison about being doused with fire, but she already knew what that felt like. This was nothing like that. Unlike that crackle and smell of burnt skin, this flame left her more charred than singed. 

 

She should not be doing this. 

 

She should not be doing anything. 

 

She should not even exist. 

 

But has Ichie ever gotten anything she ever wanted? When did she not pay the price or work herself to the bone to get that glimpse of a happy ever after? When did the gods ever play fair  to something like her? 

 

Someone told her once that love can change a life— that it can change everything. Someone told her once that she was human, and she was allowed to fail and fall. Someone told her once. Someone told her once. 

 

Who would tell her once? 

 

Why couldn’t they tell her twice? 

 

Why can’t they talk to her now? 

 

Why can’t—

 

“Ichie?”

 

The sound of her name. It was softly spoken, it was gentle and sweet and warm and full of— 

 

Fire. 

 

Fire everywhere, blood, smoke, rain, the taste of thunder and the scream of lightning. 

 

Everything was burning up.

 

“You’re burning up,” There was a weight on her forehead, soft and cool and— Ichie slapped it away in a heartbeat, in that hollow aching thud that bruised the insides of her ribs. 

 

“Tamao,” she whispered, hissing the name out like it’s a sin. Ichie remembered where she was now. She’s on the third floor of Tamao’s house, perched on the balcony she owned like a raven. Like a bad omen. “Don’t touch me Tamao.” 

 

Ichie did not look up, not at Tamao’s face. She focused instead on her drenched nightgown, on the silk coat she wore and now staining with rain. Ichie remembered they had jam for dessert that evening, but that doesn’t stop her mistaking that stain on her sleeves for faded blood. 

 

“Ichie…” Tamao whispered her name again, soft and gentle. It’s the voice of an angel, and if Ichie had the luxury to trust in gods and the idea of heaven, she might’ve agreed. “What are you doing here?”

 

“Nothing good,” Ichie whispered, swallowing the metaphorical knife down her throat, the metal scraping her insides, leaving her voice raw and painful. “Nothing good at all.” Maybe she should’ve lied; maybe she should’ve been kinder. Yachiyo could do that when it was important, and she was Yachiyo. 

 

Oh , but the lightning crackled in the air like a warning shot, and Ichie remembered that no, she did not have the luxury to be Yachiyo. She did not have the luxury to be anyone but herself. So that made all of this harder. If Ichie had any choice to be kind, she would’ve taken it.

 

But when did she ever have the choice to be happy? 

 

“You’re not listening to me are you?” Tamao, the blessed angel she was, reached out again. Her voice was colder; she must’ve been frowning. Ichie snapped out of the thoughts, nodding in the vague assumption that, yeah, she wasn’t paying attention. She wasn’t paying attention to Tamao, except she was. 

 

Her hands were calloused with the pinpricks of roses and the sandpaper texture of the underside of leaves. She can see the edges of her nails fading out with soil. If she had the choice, she would accurately recount all of the flowers Tamao looked after that day because, despite all of the rain, that’s all Ichie could smell. 

 

That was Tamao’s gift, in Ichie’s opinion. Everything good liked to latch to her and then linger for everyone else to notice. That’s why Ichie hesitated, ignoring all the ways happiness seemed so close in reach whenever Tamao was around. She wanted to be seen as something good too. 

 

There was a slam nearby, and Ichie recoiled, almost slipping on the railing before she fell forward, regaining her balance. That was not thunder; it was too gentle. Ichie looked around her, catching sight of Tamao’s hands on either side of her body. She recognised that Tamao did not attempt to grab her, and to anyone else, it was a sign of cruelness or rudeness. To her, it was just a sign of compassion. Tamao remembered that she didn’t want to be touched.

 

“Ichie.” 

 

“Tamao.”

 

“What are you doing here?” Tamao repeated once again. Her voice was hardened now, yet that scent of softness echoed from the syllables of her tongue. It was that kindness that Ichie adored, even when she knew she shouldn’t. It was something that the world, cruel in all of its might and hunger, would savour and then devour. 

 

“I’m here to hurt you,” Ichie said, honestly and as neutral as she could be. She was not Yachiyo, honesty even when it brought wounds and scars and angry howling in the night. She was not Tamao, who was kind and warm so naturally that even the sun would be jealous. She was not—

 

She was not! 

 

 

She was not whoever that ghost she failed to remember; she was not whatever that person wanted her to be. So she will be Ichie, even when she doesn’t know what they would mean. 

 

“You’re here to hurt me?” Tamao scoffed, her amused smile sinking the guilt deeper into Ichie’s stomach. Even with the rain pouring down her cheeks, Tamao looked like it wasn’t middle of the night, the glow of her eyes illuminating the space around them. “Ichie you wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

 

“I’m being serious Tamao,” Ichie tried her best to stay calm, to keep her voice neutral. She was grateful for the rain, for the cold. For all the ample reasons why her hands shook and why her voice rattled. “I’m here to hurt you.”

 

“And then what are you going to do?” Tamao whispered, almost compelling Ichie to look up, a mystical hand against her chin. Yet Tamao still kept her word; she hasn’t touched Ichie at all. “You can’t do anything to me Ichie, just like I can’t do anything to you.” Tamao was right, even when Ichie didn’t want to admit it. They were made from the same cloth. They moved in the shape of a parallelogram, separate but connected. Distant but equal. 

 

“I’m going to run away,” Ichie said, her words firm. She looked in between Tamao’s eyes, ignoring that violent purple glow. “Leave. You will never see me again.” If everything went right, Tamao would never see  anything , ever again. 

 

There, the smile on Tamao’s face vanished, broken up like a thrown vase. It shifted and twisted, lips opening and parting before closing into a stern frown. Her brows narrowed, and the cold rain dripped down her jawline like blood. 

 

“So that’s how you’re going to hurt me,” Tamao laughed, cold and distant as it once used to be before Ichie met her. It was sharp like jagged stone, blunt enough to be a hammer. It crushed and scrapped and ruined every part of Ichie’s heart to hear it. “You’re going to run away from me too?”

 

Ichie looked away. The weight in her throat forced her neck down to her feet. “And I thought we were friends,” Tamao continued, the hope and that light that Ichie has always adored fading away. “I thought we could’ve been anything more.”

 

Ichie huffed, shaking her head. She doesn’t hide the way her voice broke, crumbling in the harsh reality of truth. “It doesn’t work that way, it never worked that way.”

 

They weren’t created to be part of a happy ending, at least in an ending where both of them would be happy. Where both of them would be alive with a sense of purpose. 

 

“We didn’t try to kill each other the first time we met,” Tamao insisted, the grief driving her into anger. “We could’ve made it, we could’ve worked.”

 

That was the thing-- they could. Ichie can see that future, that possibility as easily as breathing when Tamao was in front of her. Then the scorching heat would rise up underneath her chin at the very thought of them being more than what they were destined for, and Ichie  burned.  In the pleasant ways, in the cruel ways. In all the ways that made her inhuman in the eyes of others for simply surviving. 

 

“We could,” Ichie admitted. She noticed there-- how close Tamao’s hand was to her’s and how close her body was. If she wanted to be selfish, Ichie would lean in— not for a kiss but to rest her head on her shoulder and pretend that nothing bad would happen. Yet that was the thing with ignorance; it would only be a bliss to things you shouldn’t be ignorant of.  

 

Ichie made the distinct gesture to distance them further. She looked between the gap of Tamao’s brows, hoping that it was enough of pretending to look like she was staring at Tamao’s eyes. “But I’m making that choice that we don’t.”

 

Tamao remained quiet. The rain continued to batter all of them in a drone of white noise. Purple light bathed Ichie’s face, highlighting the golden glow of Ichie’s eyes. Once before, Tamao mentioned that their eyes were complementary, that hue was matched to fit each other despite being so different. Ichie would take that fact to her grave. “Was it me?”

 

Ichie shook her head. “No.”

 

Another wave of silence. It was broken apart with another equally wavering question. “Was it you?”

 

Ichie smiled as she nodded her head, lying right through her teeth. “Yeah.” What a lie. It wasn’t her fault, not really, but in the same way, it was. She chose this. 

 

“Then go,” Tamao spat, her hurt raw and open like a puncture wound. Her hand flew to her eyes, muffling the purple light. “Just leave. You’re here now, you said your goodbye. You hurted me already,” Tamao heaved, her voice breaking just enough for Ichie’s heart to ache. “So just go—”

 

But the ache was nothing to the heavy acceptance of what was next to come. 

 

“Tamao,” Ichie said with a heaviness to her throat. She rose her head, golden eyes baring her soul as the light in them flickered like a candle to the wind. “I said I came here-- to hurt you.”

 

Tamao paused, her breathing still as time continued to flow fast and flow quickly and yet go so slow at the same time that Ichie wouldn’t be surprised if, for a second, her heart forgot how to move. “Ichie?”

 

The hidden dagger in her hands that was once only used for protection never felt heavier. 

 

Ichie looked at Tamao in the eyes, memorising her purple eyes that were once complementary to hers. She would take that sight to her grave and let it haunt her for the rest of her life. In the far distance, lightning and thunder crackled in the air like a dangerous warning. 

 

“I’m so sorry, Tamao,” Ichie sobbed with a watery smile before lunging the dagger at her face. 

 


 

[Epilogue] 

 

“Ichie,” Yachiyo hissed to the empty scenes. She was dressed in a waterproof cloak, her hood hiding her mess of pink locks as her messy scarf protected her face from the wet and cold winds. “Ichie where are you?”

 

It’s been 45 minutes since Ichie disappeared for an errand, and it’s been 15 minutes late for Ichie’s reappearance. Now Yachiyo knew Ichie, and she knew enough of other things to know that Ichie would be alive and that she would be fine. But that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be complications, a new scar, a wanted poster— people hunting her down. 

 

Yet none of that happened, and that scared Yachiyo deep to her bones. 

 

A rustle in the trees made Yachiyo whirl her hand around, light outstretched. The person hissed in the sudden light before Yachiyo shut it off entirely, returning it softly to a warm pink glow. 

 

“Ichie?” Yachiyo gasped, taking in her bloodied clothes with a shaking voice. “What— what did you do?”

 

“Nothing,” Ichie spat, her cheerful voice jarringly hollow. The lie in her eyes was transparent as the lost swimming in it. “I didn’t hurt her.”

 

Yachiyo’s head reeled back, her jaw opening and closing like a malfunctioning toy soldier. “Hurt who, Ichie?”

 

“I didn’t hurt her,” Ichie muttered as she staggered forward, almost falling altogether if it weren’t for Yachiyo grabbing her. “I didn’t hurt Tamao at all, I failed.” 

 

“You’re burning up Ichie,” Yachiyo hissed, shaking her hand with a wince. The heat was something similar, but not— this reached a new layer of warmth, almost hot enough to evaporate the rain touching her. “And Tamao? What did you do to Tamao?” Ichie glanced up once, catching her eye before looking away as something dark sank down in Yachiyo's stomach. 

 

Oh.... This made so much sense, but at the same time, the thought terrified Yachiyo. Tamao was the village jewel, the daughter of a family that held so much history. If Ichie did anything to Tamao, they would not only be wanted, but they would be hunted down for sport. “Ichie??”

 

“Nothing,” Ichie continued to murmur, still moving forward in slow, haggard steps. Yachiyo moved back to accommodate her, one hand on her shoulder so that Ichie could continue to lean into her. “I did nothing.”

 

Only then did Yachiyo touch the wet fluid texture of blood on Ichie’s clothes. It was still warm, and Yachiyo had a feeling that wasn’t from Ichie’s unnatural body heat. “Then whose blood is this?” For once, Ichie stilled, and this close, Yachiyo could hear the gulp in Ichie’s throat. “Ichie?” 

 

“Everything was for the sake of the prophecy, Yachiyo,” Ichie sighed, the fatigue and the cold mingling together to create a voice more distraught than worrying. “Please, let it die at that.”