Everyone wants to fly, and now, with the help of a board and four wheels, it’s possible.
“And he drops back onto the pipe. Good air, and for the final trick of his run, what will Creed do? Oh, my gosh! A perfect 1080! Will he land it?”
Creed exhaled, closing his eyes. The front wheels of his board hit the pipe, and he finished off the run with a smooth, flawless landing. He twisted around, skidding to a stop next to his brother,
exchanging a high-five.
“You finally landed it when it counts,” River said, embracing him in congratulations. They were both going to the finals.
“Did you see that, folks?” the announcer shouted, laughing in unbelief. “No one has made such a perfect execution of that trick! That was amazing!”
A faint smile danced over Creed’s lips, looking around at the cheering crowd.
“That’s it for today, ladies and gentlemen. The finals tomorrow will take place at three o’clock. The finalists for the gentlemen are Creed and River Coston, Matt Carr, Tim Wayne, Quinn Powers,
Kaito Jai, James Sprowl, Aaron Ream, and Micah Jack. Only five will make it through to the international tour.”
Creed and River ran over to their adoptive family.
“You both were phenomenal! I’m very proud of you,” their father, Josef, praised, his small face lighting up in a broad smile. “From the looks of it, you’ve got the finals in the bag, except for
that Kaito kid. He could give you some trouble.”
“I think we can handle it,” River said, smiling as Creed swept Sam up in his arms and set him on his shoulders. The nine-year-old boy cheered and laughed.
“I love my brothers!” Sam yelled.
Creed chuckled, looking up at him. “Ready to get home?”
“Of course. Now hold on.” Creed waited until Sam wrapped his arms around his neck before sprinting for Josef’s black Ferrari and his and River’s motorcycles.
River trailed behind with Josef with Sam’s older sister, Arianna, walking in between them. She was just a few years younger than River and Creed, being thirteen.
“You two were amazing!” Arianna said, looking up at River through her side-swept, golden blond bangs. “Can I have a lesson tonight?”
“Sure.” He ruffled her hair the way she hated it. He swerved to the right, dodging her smack. “You’re gonna have to be quicker than that, Ari.”
“Yeah, cause you’re such a ninja.”
“I am a ninja.”
“No you’re not.”
“Didn’t you see what I just did?”
“Did what?” she asked, wrinkling her nose.
“Exactly.” He grinned and swung onto his red motorcycle, jamming the key into the ignition. He leaned against the handlebars, waiting for Creed to mount his black one. He laughed, watching his
brother shove Sam playfully into the back seat and shut the door before he could escape. “Ready to go?”
“Yeah. Let’s roll,” Creed said, swinging onto his motorcycle and taking off for their beachside mansion at a speed dangerously exceeding the limit.
River sighed and shook his head, following after Creed at a safer pace.
Kaito watched the two happy skaters take of with their family. He looked away, angry and bitter. He threw his board down and glided onto it. He took off for the foster home he resided in. He didn’t
have a family. And the family he used to have wasn’t much of one. It was only him and Hiro now.
“Kaito!” Hiro exclaimed, running to hug his brother.
He grunted and smiled, returning the hug. He kicked up his board. “Finally awake, I see.”
Hiro giggled. “How’d you do? How’d you do? How’d you do?”
“I made it to the finals. I’ll tell you all about it in a little while. Where’s Miss Parenti?” He asked, looking down at the seven-year-old boy. A pang of anger coursed through him. The scar on
Hiro’s neck glared at him—reminding Kaito how weak he was. Couldn’t even save his little brother from pain.
“She’s in the kitchen.” Hiro’s small, dark brown eyes glowed in pride and happiness at his older brother’s news. He wanted to be just like him when he got big, and that’s exactly what Kaito feared
“Thanks, bud.” He rubbed his shoulder comfortingly. “Go back to playing with Katie and Leo. I’ll be right back.” He jogged inside the back door that lead straight into the kitchen. Miss Parenti and
her only daughter—Emily—were in there making lunch. “Hey, Miss Parenti? Can I talk to you?”
Emily looked over, smiling at him.
Kaito returned it briefly.
“Yeah, of course.”
“Privately?” he asked, glancing at Emily.
“Oh. Yes, yes.” She washed and dried off her hands and escorted him into the hall. “What’s on your mind, Kaito?” she asked gently, her young, blue eyes concerned.
“I made it to the finals. If I make it into the top five, I’ll be leaving next week to tour the world with the group. I’m worried about Hiro.”
“Ah, don’t you worry about that. Emily and I will take good care of him. We won’t let anyone take him from you. I promise.” She hugged him quickly. “Congratulations on getting this far! I’m so
proud of you!”
Kaito didn’t let his happiness show. He just nodded once. “I’m going to go tell Hiro about it.” He leaned his board against the wall and jogged out to the backyard again. “Hey, bud!”
The little boy sprinted over. “Yeah, Kai?”
He knelt down in front of him, getting at eyelevel. “If I make it to the top five tomorrow in the competition, I’ll be able to travel the world for a year. I’ll be gone that whole time.”
“I’m going to be alone?” he whispered.
“No, no, no. You’ll still have Katie, Leo, Emily, and Miss Parenti here to take care of you. When I get back, I’ll be old enough to get us both out of here. I’ll take care of you—just you and me.”
He brightened at that. “Really?”
“Totally.” He ruffled Hiro’s hair. “Now get back to playing. Have a good time.” He stood up again and walked back through the house, grabbing his board on the way to his room. He collapsed onto his
bed, burying his face in the pillow. He lied there for a few minutes, going over everything from that day. He had come in third—a shoo-in for the international tour the X-Games were starting. 160
kids from all over the world would be chosen to compete in various cities. MTV had agreed to follow around the kids and make a video journal of their travels. It was a huge opportunity for Kaito,
and he had to get in on it. He had to.
He pushed himself into a sitting position again, looking down at his arms. One was smooth and scar-free. His left wrist though—it was constantly hidden under a fingerless glove that extended to the
middle of his forearm. There were other scars—some from his own doing and some from his past—that covered the more hidden parts of his body like his thighs . . . his back . . . his chest . . . his
shoulders. The only one that was visible at all times was the one on his face. Kaito closed his eyes, touching the old injury that stretched from the bridge of his nose to his jaw. Run in with a
barbed wire fence—that was the cover story he had used ever since he got it.
“Kaito?” Emily asked from the door, snapping him from his reverie.
He looked up, letting his hand drop to his lap. “Yeah?”
“Lunch’s ready if you’re hungry.” She walked in and sat down in front of him. She reached up, hesitantly, slowly. She bushed his shaggy, black bangs away from his dark eyes and traced the scar
herself. Emily looked down as he grabbed her hand and pulled it away from his face.
Kaito got to his feet and walked from the room without a word. He grabbed a handful of chips, a half of a sandwich, and a can of Coke. He lied down in the soft grass out in the backyard, munching
on the chips. Miss Parenti never had to worry about money being scarce. Her dad was the mayor. So naturally, he and his big-money supporters funded her foster home. There were 50 kids total ranging
from age six to seventeen with Kaito being one of the oldest ones. There were six other guys his age, but they didn’t get along.
Case and point.
“Hey, Asian!” one of the aforementioned boys yelled across the yard, trying to balance a laden plate of food while talking at the same time. It was proving to be quite a struggle for poor Dirk.
Kaito glanced back at his nickname. He was half Japanese. As a result, he had inherited some of the characteristics from his mother. But, despite that, he still had pale skin like his father.
“Heard you came in third at the tournament. What’d you do? Bribe the judge? Oh, that’s right, you don’t have anything to bribe with, unless you count your life, and that’s not much.”
Kaito narrowed his eyes and got to his feet. “Leave me alone, Dirk.”
“Don’t feel like it. Why don’t you make me?” He rumbled forward, shoving Kaito in the shoulder, making him stagger back a step.He recovered quickly and sprinted forward, bringing his fist back. He
aimed a blow for Dirk’s fat face, but before it could connect, two other guys tackled him, sending all three of them to the ground. Kaito twisted around, kicking one of the two away. He slid from
the grip of the other and jumped to his feet. He dropped down into a defensive position, eyes shining. Kaito watched the three run for him. He dodged Dirk and Jason, but Chad locked one arm around
his waist, slamming him to the ground.
Kaito lied there, momentarily stunned. A punch jerked his head to the side before he recovered completely. He fought for the upper hand, tasting blood in his mouth. Two held him down while Dirk
kicked and punched him. His black eyes shone in wicked glee.
“What’re you gonna do now, you little Asian emo!” he yelled in Kaito’s face. “Want me to give you more scars? But, you probably give yourself enough of those, don’t you?” He kicked him in the side
again, driving the wind from him.
“What in the world is going on here?” Miss Parenti demanded from behind Dirk. All three boys scattered instantly. She sighed and knelt down next to Kaito. “I’ll deal with them later. Are you
He rolled stiffly onto his knees. He slouched and leaned over, spitting out a gob of blood. “I’m fine.” He got to his feet, leaving his food behind. “I’ll be at the skate park.” He grabbed his
board from his room and returned to the park, choosing his favorite half-pipe. And then, he was flying.
“You’re not jumping high enough off the lip,” River instructed as Arianna rolled to a stop in front of him. “That’s why you’re messing up the landings.”
Creed watched from where he was perched in the massive tree out back. Arianna had talent, she just had to get the details down first.
She nodded, frustrated. “I’ll try again.”
River crossed his arms over his chest, looking up at Arianna as she reached the top of the pipe. She dropped down, rolling up the other side, making a little jump of the lip, rolling back down and
up the other side, making a bigger jump. The third jump up, she barely had enough air to do the trick, but she waited. She climbed the other side, launching high into the air. She grabbed the
bottom of her board and rotated 180°. It was clean and steady. Her wheels hit the pipe and she rolled through a smooth landing.
“Whoo! Perfect, perfect, perfect!” River congratulated, slapping a high-five with Arianna.
Creed clapped, grinning down at the two of them.
“Sushi’s here!” Josef yelled out the back door. “Time to eat!”
Sam dropped the Airsoft gun he was playing with and bolted for the door, pushing past Josef and claiming his California roll before anyone could take it.
River laughed and shook his head, following alongside Creed. He ruffled his brother’s hair playfully, wrapping an arm around Creed’s shoulders. “We’re going to be traveling the world, brother.”
“You’re only looking forward to all the foreign girls.” He laughed as River shoved his head. “But it’s true. Don’t deny it.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” He sat down on one of the barstools in the massive white and stainless steel kitchen. He tore open a package of chopsticks and claimed his sushi.
Creed took his place next to River and across from Josef. “So, you’re going to be watching Skate while we’re gone, right?”
“Der,” Arianna mumbled around a mouthful of fish, rice, seaweed, and carrots. “Need to see if either of you two bozos manage to get girlfriends.”
“Hey, hey, I’ve had a girlfriend,” River protested.
“Oh yeah. What was her name? Alyssa? Wasn’t she dating another guy and a girl at the same time?”
He stuck his tongue out. “Shut up.”
“Or what? Why should I?”
“Because I can kill you in several, creative ways that will be slow and painful.”
“So you say. Use your past as a threat, whatever.” She poked him in the forehead with her chopsticks. “I’m more afraid of Creed than you.”
“With good reason,” Creed muttered, smirking.
“It’s always the quiet ones,” Josef said. “And River was never quiet.”
“Never,” Creed agreed.
“ExCUSE me. So I’m not good at brooding, what about it?”
“I don’t brood.”
“No, you just think on something for a very long time that makes you unhappy with a frown on your face and glare at anyone who has the gall to interrupt you.”
“Isn’t that the definition of brooding?” Arianna asked.
“With a few embellishments,” River replied, wiggling his golden blond eyebrows. His turquoise eyes shown happily. He leaned back in his chair, munching on the Asian cuisine.
Creed looked down, allowing a half-smile to appear on his face. River had never looked so happy but in the two years they had spent with the Costons. Then again, their life hadn’t been all that
great until Josef found them. He stuck another roll into his mouth, looking around at his family. The thick, black lines around his wrist were a constant reminder of what his life used to be and
what it could’ve been.
Kaito rolled to a final stop and collapsed on the wooden pipe. He pressed the palms of his hands against his eyes, sighing. The side of his face was puffy where Dirk had punched him. He hoped Hiro
hadn’t seen the fight. The kid had seen too much as it was.
“Kaito?” Emily asked from the edge of the pipe. “Are you coming home tonight or are you going to disappear again?”
He sat up and twisted around to face her. They were the only two in the park. He looked down. “I wasn’t planning on coming back. That place isn’t my home anyway.”
Emily sat down next to him. “I know. I know. But, there are people who love you.”
He got to his feet. “No, there’s not.”
She stood up after him, shocked and a little hurt. “Kaito, really? You don’t actually believe that, do you? Hiro adores you. My mom treats you like her own son.” She came around to face him. “And,
despite all your aptitude for fighting and your reserved and depressing aura, you’ve grown on me.”
He looked away. “Hiro shouldn’t adore me. I’m the crappiest brother anyone could ask for. I don’t want to be treated like a son. Emily, I’m only here until I have enough money to get Hiro out of
“So you’ve said. Until you come back, Hiro will be taken care of. He won’t go anywhere.” She turned to leave. “I’ll tell Hiro to stop worrying about you and you’ll be coming back eventually. He’ll
love to go to sleep alone for the second night in a row.”
Kaito kicked up his board and fell in step next to her. “I’m sorry,” he said, finally meeting her eyes. “I didn’t . . . yeah, anyway.”
She smiled up at him. “It’s alright. It’s not entirely your fault.” Emily rolled down the glove, baring the tip of one of the scars. She touched the rough skin sadly. She pulled it back over the
Kaito didn’t stop her this time. He looked up at the orphanage gates. “Sleep well,” he said, looking down at Emily. He gave her a brief, one-armed hug before walking up to his room where Hiro was
The little boy smiled up at his brother. “You’re back.”
He propped the board against the wall. “I am.” He changed into a white tank top and soft black pants. Hiro still couldn’t sleep alone because of nightmares, so he slept with Kaito.
Hiro scooted closer to Kaito as he lied down. He closed his eyes, feeling his brother’s arm secure around him, protecting him. “Good night, brother.”
“Sleep well, Hiro.”
© Copyright 2016 Asher Kim. All rights reserved.