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Dreamweaver Book 3-Despair

Novel By: Edwin Mwintome Bozie
Fantasy



Zan feels depressed after discovering his true heritage from Enslavement. He decides to stay away from Ayumi in order to protect her from himself. When he leaves, Ayumi begins to realize just how much she had began to care for him. Zan runs into a mysterious boy who encourages him not to lose hope. Later along the line, Zan's birthday arrives and Ayumi decides to give him a present. However, to find this present, she would have to venture into the deeper realms of Nightmares, cross the borders of hopelessness and face none other than the third soul of evil, Despair himself! View table of contents...


Chapters:

1 2 3 4

Submitted:Apr 11, 2013    Reads: 30    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


EPISODE 10- SEARCHING FOR THE LOST SMILE

It was around 3:00am and I was fast asleep. There was a round of successive knocks on my door but I was too tired to notice. Ayumi walked into my room and tapped my shoulder lightly. I woke up and yawned but said nothing.

"Zan, we've missed classes for quite a while. I just found out from one of our mates that our end of term exams start tomorrow. I mean today!" Ayumi said hysterically.

"Exams huh? At least they came before I could bring the world to an end" I said as a tear flowed down my face.

Ayumi noticed my sorrow.

"What's wrong Zan?" she asked.

"It's pointless to worry about exams. We may not even be alive to reap the benefits of our studies" I said.

"What are you talking about?" Ayumi asked me.

"I need to be alone" I said.

I felt so devastated by Enslavement's revelation that hopelessness wasn't a word strong enough to describe how I felt. The girl I loved would have to draw her sword against me eventually and that would only be if I did not lose myself completely, turn into a raging monster and end up hurting her. When Ayumi shut the door behind her, I broke down into tears. I didn't know then that Ayumi was standing right behind the door. She sighed and walked away.

When morning came, I got up from bed and prepared for school. I didn't know which papers we would be writing for the day so I packed all my books and went down the stairs. I met Ai, Ayumi and Mr Kirisawa at the dining table.

"How was your sleep Zan?" Mr Kirisawa asked.

"Fine" I said plainly and walked to the table.

I sat at my usual spot, between Ayumi and Mr Kirisawa.

"Cheer up Zan, exams won't be so bad" Ayumi tried to cheer me up.

"It's not the exams I'm worried about" I said as I prepared a cup of tea for myself.

"What's wrong" Ai asked.

"Well, let's just say my fears have been upgraded and leave it at that" I said.

"Can't you be more specific?" Ayumi asked.

"I don't want to talk about it!" I said sharply.

After eating, I walked outside and waited by the car.

"What's his problem?" Ai asked in concern.

"It must have something to do with Enslavement" Ayumi said.

Soon, Ayumi and I were dropped off at school. We entered our class and sat at our desks quietly.

"Zan, you know you can trust me right? Ayumi asked me.

I ignored her. I wanted her as far away from me as possible because I didn't want to hurt her if I happened to lose myself to my rage again. Soon, the bell rang for the papers to begin and our mates began to settle. The invigilators walked in with our exam papers and began to distribute them. There was utter silence within the class. So quiet was it that a pin drop would have made unbearable noise. The air of tension began to sink into my bones. I waited indifferently though for an invigilator to hand over my paper. Soon, I had my paper in my hands. I wasted no time in writing my name and index number. I stared at the title of the paper. As if I didn't have enough problems on my head, I was stuck with my most problematic paper, Core Mathematics. I was so weak in Maths that my teachers had begun to theorize that I probably had Maths Dyslexia. When I saw that title, all my fears were confirmed. I knew right then that whatever the future held in store for me wasn't going to be good. The one thing I despised more than evil bunnies was memorizing Maths formulas so you can imagine how I felt since I didn't even have time to prepare. When we were given permission to start work, I glared at the questions in disdain. I managed to answer five objective questions but when I reached the sixth question, I saw Enslavement's face in the paper.

"You are Zanfar. The Ultimate Nightmare, True King and Origin of all Nightmares" her voice rang in my head.

As those words filled my mind, the air suddenly became chilly. I rubbed my arms and stared out of the window. There was a cool scent in the air, the scent of rain approaching. It didn't take long for it to start raining and the rainfall began with a loud thunderclap that terrorized most of the students.

"Huh, this is nothing if I'm the King Of Nightmares. This is the perfect atmosphere for someone like me" I said as tears began to flow down my face.

I couldn't hold my pain in anymore. Ayumi glanced at me and noticed how distraught I was. I stood up and walked out of class despite the invigilators' stern warnings. When I was in the school compound, exposed to the torrential rain, I sighed.

"Wanye, I wish you were around. You always seemed to know the answer to everything. I feel so lost right now" I said sadly.

Ayumi walked out of the class and approached me.

"Zan, why are you not trying to answer the questions? If you want my help I'll…"

"I could never ask you to cheat Ayumi" I interrupted her. "It's not that I can't answer the questions. I just don't feel like answering them" I said.

"What?! This is an exam! Are you trying to play with your future?!" Ayumi asked me.

I laughed at her.

"What's so funny?!" she yelled angrily.

"I wish right now that…I had a mother to lecture me the way you're doing right now. I have nobody and…I'm nothing but a walking disaster" I said sadly.

"You have Ai and my dad and…well…you have…me" Ayumi admitted with great difficulty.

"I'll be leaving the house today" I said.

"What?!" Ayumi exclaimed in shock.

"And I don't think I deserve to be a Dream Knight. I'm leaving Ayu. Please don't look for me" I said as I started to walk away.

"Zan!" Ayumi called.

"Just go back to class and write your exam. I was nothing before I met you and now I shall return to nothing. It's better than being a harbinger of disaster" I said as I walked away.

"But Zan, you're a Dream Knight now. You are not a disaster. You saved me from Cowardice and once again from Enslavement! You defeated Enslavement!" Ayumi argued.

"Yeah, but you didn't see how I did it. I turned into something else and what I did to Enslavement, I realized that I could have just as easily done that to you" I said.

Ayumi stared at me with imploring eyes. I could tell that she wanted to say something to stop me but she just didn't know what to say. I turned and walked away.

"I'm sorry Ayumi but this is the only way to protect you from myself" I muttered so that she couldn't hear me and walked away.

The rain mingled with Ayumi's tears so that you couldn't tell whether she was weeping or the rain was running down her face.

"I've lost another friend and there was nothing I could say to stop him from leaving" she said in Japanese and returned sorrowfully to class.

**** **** **** ****

Meanwhile I was walking around town in the rain. I intended to walk to Lower East Side Dream City but instead, I ended up in Northern Dream City. It was the most religious part of Dream City, filled with Churches and Mosques. I continued walking and eventually reached a winding path leading up a hill. I followed the path and ended up at the front of a Church called Christ The King Catholic Church. I entered the Church feeling sad. The Church had a round sort of shape and it was very tall. The outer walls were painted with a lighter shade of red. Inside, there were stained glasses with portraits of the Saints. At the front of the Church was an altar and above it was a gigantic Crucifix of the crucified Christ Jesus. I recalled Wanye's advice to me when I was seven years old.

"One day Zan, I will no longer be at your side but there is a friend you will always have. You don't see him but he sees you. Sometimes, you will see him but you will not recognize him because he has a bad habit of always popping up unexpectedly to check on people. His name is Jesus Christ. I tell you, in your entire lifetime, you'll never have a friend like him".

At that particular moment, I was beginning to doubt Wanye's words.

"If Jesus was a really kind God who created and cared for everything, why did he create a monster like me, someone whose existence was for the sole purpose of bringing destruction?" I thought.

I sat at the farthest seat from the altar. A boy came and sat beside me. He had brown curly hair which was cut quite short. He wore a tattered white shirt and torn baggy crimson trousers I noticed that he glanced at me every now and then.

"At least he turned out right, didn't he dad?" the boy said.

I looked around trying to see who the boy was talking to but I saw no one.

"Hey boy, don't look so serious. It doesn't suit you" he said.

I became annoyed.

"Mind your own beeswax! Do you know what I'm going through?!" I yelled angrily.

"Don't you believe in God?" he asked.

"Right now, I'm having a particularly hard time believing in Him considering the fact that I'm a walking disaster!" I yelled angrily.

"You…a walking disaster? Then I guess you probably don't know Victoria Arthur!" he laughed loudly.

He had a warm laugh, with no hint of sarcasm or mockery in it.

"You know Victoria?" I asked.

"Why won't I know her when she is always saying I've taken an extended vacation!" the boy laughed.

"Well that is nothing. I apparently nearly destroyed the world two thousand years ago!" I said thinking he would find me weird and leave.

"That's silly, you are only about eighteen years old" he said.

"Well I've been fighting nightmares and evil souls" I added more fuel.

"I see. If you've been fighting so much evil then you must be really naïve to believe in the words of pure evil" he said.

"If it was just as simple as that. I felt the rage within me and struck Enslavement in fury. I'm scared that I could do the same to Ayumi" I said.

"Don't be silly. You are too worried about the future. Leave the future to God and enjoy the present besides…nothing is predestined. You are not predestined to turn evil. Evil is a choice so no one can be born evil" the boy said.

"Even if you say that, I don't want to risk Ayumi's life" I said.

"Tell me Zan. What do you think is more important to Ayumi? Losing another precious friend or losing her life?" the boy asked me.

"Only Ayumi can answer that" I said.

"I think you also know the answer. You can't sit here seeking answers to things that have not yet happened. Answers come with time but you must trust in your heart or Ai no Hikari will do you no good" the boy said.

"Ai no…how did you know?" I asked.

"That's because…I was the one that defeated you two thousand years ago" the boy said seriously.

"WHAT?!" I exclaimed in shock.

"Maybe one day you will remember our promise. My friends call me…wait a sec, my dad is calling" the boy said as he picked up his cell phone.

"Yes dad, I should find his smile? Hey dad, isn't it a bit pushy to force someone's memories? Well he's a hard case but he's really interesting. Right now? Okay, gotcha dad!" the boy conversed with his father on his phone.

"Zan I'm sorry. I've got to leave now, Dad's orders. But I'm sure we'll meet again. Hey, my birthday's this Sunday. And it's Christmas too. Hehe! I'll get a lot of presents this year!" he laughed happily.

"Well my birthday's one day before yours so I'm older than you whether you like it or not so don't forget it!" I bossed him around. "Well happy birthday in advance. What's your name?" I asked.

"It's Jesus. Same as the one you call Nana Nyankopon Jesus Christ" the boy laughed happily.

"Well that's nice. You already know my name right? Have this for your birthday" I said as I gave him my rhino-horn chain.

"No, I can't take this! It's too important to you" he said considerately.

"I insist" I said as I forced it into his hand.

"Thank you, I don't have anything on me right now so I'll think of a suitable present to give you later. Now I've got to carry out Dad's errand quickly and get home before supper or mom will kill me. Uncle Abraham and Uncle Elijah also have a lot of jokes to tell me so I'd better not miss any of them" Jesus said as he waved and hurried away.

**** **** **** **** ****

Ayumi had just finished her last paper. She sat on the school wall feeling miserable. I honestly hadn't realized that she cared for me so much.

Soon Mr Kirisawa and Ai arrived in the jeep to pick us home. Ayumi jumped down the wall and walked to the jeep. Ai got down and greeted her. Then she noticed my absence.

"Where is Zan?" she asked.

Ayumi shook her head sadly.

"He left and he's not coming back. He left and…and I couldn't even stop him" Ayumi said.

"Why that jerk!"Ai yelled angrily.

"It definitely has something to do with Enslavement" Ayumi said as she wiped her tears with the back of her hand.

Soon two other cars pulled up beside the jeep. Victoria descended from one and Face from the other.

"Hey Ayumi. Hi Ai. Where's Zan? We came to invite him to celebrate our knighthood" Face laughed happily.

"We were at your house but we were informed that you guys were at school so here we are" Victoria said.

"Where is Zan?" Face asked.

"He left and he's never coming back" Ayumi said.

"Poor guy. It's understandable after what Enslavement revealed to him" Face said.

"So it was Enslavement after all! What did she say?!" Ayumi roared.

"I don't think it's right for me to tell you" Face said.

"Spill it Face!" everyone demanded.

"I don't think it's right for you to force Face to reveal something personal about Zan" the boy who had spoken to me at the church said.

"Who are you?" Ayumi asked.

"My name is Jesus" the boy said.

Everyone seemed surprised by the boy's name.

"I don't think it's your right to interfere!" Ayumi said rudely.

"Well Zan ran away for the right reasons. Why didn't you stop him Ayumi? I could tell that he really wanted you to stop him but you didn't. Why didn't you?" Jesus asked her.

"What's it to you?!" Ayumi yelled angrily.

"Wow, you're really hot-tempered. You could turn into a dragon at any moment and scorch me with your fiery breath…or something like that" the boy said as he burst into laughter.

"I asked you a question!" Ayumi demanded an answer.

"Zan is trying with all his might to reach into your heart but you've shut him out. It's probably why you couldn't stop him. You are not even trying to recall the past you shared with him" Jesus said.

"How do I remember something I've forgotten?! How do I remember something that was never in my memories?! Tell me!" Ayumi demanded.

Jesus smiled.

"By remembering the first time you laughed and then, going a step further to remember why you laughed" he said and walked away.

"Hey! Is that supposed to be some kind of riddle?!" Ayumi roared angrily.

"Nope, that's nothing. The real riddle is…'have you ever hugged Zan before? Have you ever assured him that everything's going to be alright?'" Jesus said as he turned to walk away.

He began to kick a stone as though it was a ball.

"Hey, wait a minute, am I forgetting something? Oh yes! I've gotta hurry home before supper or Mom's gonna kill me!" he said worriedly as he took to his heels.

"What a strange kid" Mr Kirisawa said.

"What did he mean by I should remember the first time I laughed? The first time I laughed since Mom died was…" Ayumi tried to think.

Some students were walking past and talking cheerfully.

"I still can't imagine how Zan could draw something so funny. I just can't stop laughing anytime I see it" one girl said.

"Well the drawing is really funny. It even made Ayumi laugh" another girl said.

"I-I did?" Ayumi wondered.

"And Ayumi never laughed since she came to this school. In fact, she never talked. Zan did everything to make her laugh. Do you remember that he even serenaded Ayumi?" another girl asked.

"Zan did?" Ayumi wondered.

"Poor guy. Ayumi totally ignored him and he became the laughing stock of the class. The only thing he ever did that succeeded in making Ayumi laugh was to draw stikomiks and you remember the one that first made Ayumi laugh don't you?" the first girl asked.

Then they walked out of range and their voices could no longer be heard.

"Why can't I remember?" Ayumi said worriedly.

Suddenly, two boys walked past.

"Hey, so any updates on your progress in Seiken Densetsu 3? I love how you narrate it but it appears you are now stuck" one boy asked.

"Yeah! I finally managed to defeat Xan Bie! It's a great achievement considering my bad luck in video games" the other boy said.

"Xan Bie? That name sounds so familiar but why?" Ayumi wondered.

"My name is Xan Bie! Nice to meet you Ayumi Kirisawa!" my voice rang in her head.

"What are you doing?" Ayumi recalled her question when I was drawing my first stikomik.

"It's none of your beeswax!" she recalled my reply.

"Please let me see it or do I have to say Simon says?" Ayumi pleaded.

"No, you've never been interested in anything I do!" she recalled my refusal.

"Come on Zan. Just this once?"

"Huh, fine" she recalled me showing her the drawing of a Dream Battle between the Dream King and Nightmare King and then she recalled her laughter.

"I remembered! The first time I laughed was when Zan showed me a stikomik. How could I forget? I now understand why Zan was so hurt when I could not remember him" Ayumi said sadly.

"Let's split up and search for Zan. Victoria and Face, you can search Lower East Side Dream City. Dad, search Lower West Side Dream City. There is no need to search Upper West Dream City since Zan said he was not coming back so Ai, you take Upper East Side Dream City" Ayumi said.

"What of you Ayu? Where will you be searching?" Ai asked.

"I'll be searching Northern Dream City" Ayumi said determinedly.

**** **** **** **** ****

Meanwhile I was walking around Northern Dream City with no particular destination in mind. I was walking around a construction site. The workers there were very busy and they seemed to be warning some kids who were playing around the area. I concluded that a new Church was being built. As one of the workers was scolding the kids, I paused in my tracks and stared at them. Suddenly, I heard a loud creaking sound followed by a snapping sound and a loud shout.

"Watch out!" one of the workers screamed.

A huge metal bar was falling towards the kids. Without hesitation, I activated my sigils and raced towards the kids as quickly as I possibly could. In a split second, I had leapt into the air and sliced the bar into insignificant pieces. The kids stared at me in awe for I was glowing with the light from Ai no Hikari.

"Do not be afraid. Are you alright?" I asked.

They walked towards me and poked my armour.

"Sir, are you the Christmas angel?" one kid asked me.

"Me? An angel? Right now I feel like I'm a devil" I said sadly.

"That's crazy. Devils don't save people" the youngest girl said.

The other kids nodded in agreement. The eldest boy asked.

"Sure, but don't call me Sir, my name is Zan" I laughed.

The boy touched my sword and exclaimed in awe for his hand passed right through the blade.

"Wow, it's made of pure light! You are an angel Zan!" they exclaimed in joy.

"I'm not an angel" I said.

"When were you born?" one girl asked.

"24th December" I answered.

"Well, you're one day early. God must have been in a hurry when he made you. I hear angels are born every Christmas" the girl said with a know-it-all look on her face.

"Sir, I mean Zan, will you play with us?" they asked together.

"Sure let's play. What game do you want to play?" I asked them.

"Jack, where are you?" they answered.

"That's my favourite game!" I exclaimed in joy.

**** **** **** **** ****

Meanwhile, Ayumi had arrived in Northern Dream City. She searched around for a while but didn't find me so she proceeded to search the chapels. She eventually came to the one where I'd met Jesus. She asked the people there whether they had seen a dark skinned boy with golden coloured eyes but no one had seen me. Just as she was about to leave, one of the construction workers rushed into the chapel.

"Father! Father! Please help me! I need to confess all my sins because I think the world will soon end!" he screamed hysterically.

"What happened son?" the father asked him.

"I-I saw an angel holding a sword made of pure light! He saved some kids from a falling construction bar!" the man exclaimed.

Ayumi realized that the man was probably talking about me.

"Where did you see this angel?" she questioned the man.

"At the construction site of the new church. It's just two blocks west of this chapel" the man said.

"Thank you!" Ayumi exclaimed as she ran out of the chapel. It wasn't long before she saw me playing with the kids but she wasn't sure of whether to speak to me or not so she hid behind a short wall. She watched me as I played with the kids blindfolded.

"Jack where are you?!" I called to the kids.

"I am here!" they would reply but as I approached them relying on my sense of hearing, they would change positions so I could not find them.

I eventually tripped on a stone and fell. The kids rushed to my side and helped me up. I removed the blindfold.

"Can I take a breather?" I requested.

"Sure Angel Zan" the girl said.

"So what's Heaven like?" one boy asked.

"Heaven?" I asked.

"Where you come from" they said.

"I haven't had much time to explore the world I come from but heaven for me is everytime I'm with Ayumi" I confessed.

"Ayumi? Is she an angel too?" they asked.

"The most beautiful angel I've ever seen" I said with a faraway look on my face.

"So is she around here somewhere? Tell her to show herself" the kids pleaded.

"I…I can't. I left her" I said sadly.

"Why did you do that?! You probably hurt her feelings!" one of the girls scolded me.

"It's better that way. Now I can't hurt her. One day, I know she will have to raise her sword against me because…I'm the abomination she wants to kill" I said sadly.

Ayumi clasped her hand around her mouth. She was in shock and that was probably the only way she could prevent herself from screaming.

"So Zan really is…the Dreamweaver. If that's the truth…then the one who killed his grandfather…is me" Ayumi said as tears began to stream down her face.

"But Zan, you can't hurt Ayumi because you like her" the girl said.

"Yes, I don't want to hurt her but there's something within me that wants to destroy everything. That is why I want to be as far away from her as I possibly can. I want to protect her from myself" I explained.

"Zan, we're kids so we don't really understand much of what we're saying but we understand one thing. You need to trust yourself more!" the kids declared.

"Zan!" I suddenly heard Ayumi's voice.

I turned around to look at her. There were tears in her eyes.

"Ayumi? What are you doing here? I thought I told you not to search for me" I said sadly.

Ayumi ran towards me and hugged me tightly. I'm sorry Zan! I'm so sorry Zan. I didn't even try to stop you from leaving and I didn't understand how much it hurt you to leave! Don't worry Zan, everything is going to be alright, I promise!" Ayumi said as she hugged me even tighter.

I was stunned at first but I eventually found the courage to wrap my arms around her.

"Isn't this sweet? They've been reunited" the kids cheered.

"Zan, please come back home with me" Ayumi pleaded.

"I can't Ayumi. See, I'm the Dreamweaver and…I'm also the reincarnation of the evil that lies within the Eternal Mirror Gate. Now you know the truth Ayumi. Can you still care about me?" I asked.

"Idiot, how can I not care about the only person who made me laugh after so many years" Ayumi said with a reassuring smile.

"You're kidding right?" I asked.

I was more confused than a swatted fly.

"I don't care about any of that. The only thing…the only person I care about…is you" Ayumi said as she kissed me!

I mean she kissed me! On what planet does that happen?! The kids of course shut their eyes and made all sorts of disgusted expressions.

"Do angels really kiss?" one kid asked.

"We're not angels. We're Dream Knights! Why don't you show them your sigils Ayu?" I suggested.

Ayumi nodded with a smile and slowly transformed, first into her dormant state, then into her active state.

"Whoa! She's a flaming angel!" they exclaimed in joy.

"Hey Ayumi! Will you play with us? You and Zan can be seekers. We'll be Jack" the kids said.

"First I need to tell Zan something. Guess what Zan?" Ayumi asked me.

What?" I asked her.

"Zan, I remembered the first time you made me laugh. You drew a stikomik of the Dream and Nightmare Kings fighting and the Nightmare King won. Before that…you serenaded me!" Ayumi said with a smile.

"Y-You remembered? You remembered!" I exclaimed in joy as I lifted her into the air.

She laughed happily and soon after, we played with the kids.


**** **** **** **** ****

Soon, Ai, Victoria, Face and Mr Kirisawa found us.

"Sheesh! You found Zan and you didn't even try to call us!" Victoria complained.

"I'm sorry, I forgot" Ayumi apologized.

"It's okay. I'm glad to see you're happy" Ai said.

"I'm sorry for making you guys worry" I apologized.

"At least tell us you're coming back home" Ai pleaded.

"You are Zan…aren't you?" Ayumi asked me.

"I am coming back and this time…I'm never leaving" I said with a reassuring smile.

"I'm glad" Ayumi said.

"First, let's go out and celebrate our knighthood!" Face suggested happily.

"You're such a glutton for fun" Victoria teased him.

"Hey watch it Vikki Arthur! Have you already forgotten your lesson you insolent brat?!" Face yelled.

"Who are you calling an insolent brat?!" Victoria roared.

Ayumi and I laughed at them.

"Why are you laughing?! What's so funny?!" Victoria growled angrily.

"Don't mind us" Ayumi said.

Meanwhile, the Nightmare King was watching us through the Mirror Gate.

"Everything is going according to my plan. All Zan needs now is a little encouragement. Dream Banes! Go and send my regards to my son!" the Nightmare King said with a mischievous smile.

Almost immediately, all manner of Nightmares leapt through the Mirror Gate and appeared before us.

I smiled.

"What better way to celebrate our knighthood than to fight Nightmares together?!" I said.

"I agree with you, let's do this…together" Ayumi said.

"RIGHT! I SUMMON YOU SIGILS OF EARTH!"

"WATER!"

"WIND!"

"FLAME!" the other Dream Knights summoned their sigils and we charged on the Nightmares.

**** **** **** **** ****

It was almost midnight when we finally arrived at the Kirisawa residence. I was so tired that I walked straight to my bedroom and dived into my bed. I was really tired but also excited. According to Ayumi, school had closed for the term due to some unforeseen circumstances and though I had not yet told anyone in the Kirisawa residence, the next day was going to be the 24th of December, my nineteenth birthday and it was falling on a Saturday. Part of me wanted to tell Ayumi but another part of me didn't think it was necessary and so far the latter part was ruling. I lay on the bed wide awake with my hands behind my head. As I lay there, I heard the door open and saw Ayumi walking in.

"What's wrong Zan? Are you still worried about Enslavement's words? Let it go" Ayumi advised me.

"Nah, I'm not worried. Why should I be…when I have you?" I said with a smile.

"You shouldn't trust me so much. I'm a Dream Knight and you're the Dreamweaver" she said as she tried to avoid my eyes.

I sat up.

"Something is bothering you. What is it?" I asked her.

"Nothing much, don't worry about me" she said.

"Ayumi, I'm grateful for the things you said to me today. Even if you didn't really mean them, they mean a lot to me" I said gratefully.

"Of course I meant them. When you left…it hurt me so much" Ayumi said.

"It's pointless for me to try and find answers to things that have not yet happened. I don't want to miss the precious moments the present has to offer" I said.

"I take it that you're not going to leave again" Ayumi said worriedly.

"Do I really have to repeat myself? I'm never leaving so don't worry. Now why don't you tell me a bedtime story" I requested.

"Aren't you a bit too old for that?" she teased me.

"No one is too old for stories" I argued.

"Fine, I'll tell you one but it isn't really a bedtime story" Ayumi said.

"I'm listening" I said but when she began to narrate her story, all I heard was

"Once long ago…" and from then on, I could only see her lips moving but I could not hear her words and soon, I was lost in the deepest abyss of Dreamland.

Ayumi smiled at me and got up to leave. As she walked away, her eyes fell on the calendar hanging on my bedroom wall. I had marked 24th December as my birthday.

"Tomorrow is Zan's birthday? Why didn't he tell me?" Ayumi wondered.

"I will have to think of a suitable present then" she said as she walked to the switch.

"Sweet Zan Dream" she intentionally played with the words and then she switched off the lights and left her room.

I felt renewed and hopeful that day, mostly because I felt Ayumi was beginning to love me.

END OF EPISODE 10





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