A stong wind howled, trees swaying nonstop overhead. I sighed, glancing up at the forebodingly gray sky through soft sea-green eyes. The graveyard, arrogantly vivid flowers thrown around everywhere, had a kind of mysterious demeanor about it ever since that boy disappeared from here, and it made me wonder. I’d never known him well myself. The rumors were that he started acting weird, and then one day, he disappeared somewhere around here.
I wasn’t sure what his name had been... Kenji, or something like that...? Yeah, yeah. I walked carefully around a pair of particularly deteriorated graves, turning to face a rather large tree. A closer look into the bottom of the tree revealed it was hollow. I knelt, a small bag of cheap supermarket brand pet food in one hand, and a bottle of water in the other. I nervously looked around before moving on, making sure no one was watching me.
“Come on,” I whispered, patting the bottom of the tree. I was answered with a scratchy, echoed meow. I shivered, caught slightly off guard just like the first time I’d come across such a sound only a few days ago. I’d been angry then, and this was simply my favorite place to hang out when I was angry. It was easy to blame ghosts for everything that went wrong, after all.
I tore open the bag of cat chow and poured it out onto the ground. “Come on out,” I repeated in a hushed tone. A small, furry gray creature crawled out of the tree, followed by a scraggly reddish one, and then one with various dark patches- A litter of kittens.
They ate ravenously, so I guessed they had been hungry. I knew that nobody owned them. I would have taken them, but I wasn’t allowed. I could hardly keep myself.
I took the little cardboard containers I’d collected and filled them with water. The kittens seemed to like that. I was watching them, with nothing really better to do, when a loud voice startled me from behind.
“Hey, Hotaru! Hotaru!” A wiry teenage boy sprung out from behind me, sandy locks blowing every which way in the wind. “Ugh, there you are, e- umm, what are you doing?” He peered at me curiously with intense amber eyes.
“I am...” I couldn’t think of any excuse... Well, I figured it would be alright to tell Rayne what I was doing out here. “Looking at kittens, of course.”
“Um... yeah...” He stared, wide-eyed. “I can see that... they’re adorable... um... where did they come from?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I found them here one day.”
“You’d get in trouble for this.”
“I know.” I stood to face him.
For a moment, there was an awkward silence between us. “Hey Rayne...”
“Hm?” He had been staring thoughtfully at the kittens. “Hotaru?”
“Will you take them?” I sighed.
“The kittens. Maybe you can convince your parents.”
“Maybe, but...” He seemed uncertain.
“It’s the best chance they’ve got.” I stared at him intently.
“That’s true.” Rayne kneeled beside the felines for a minute. “We’ll see.”
I looked around, examining some of the tombstones with a sense of boredom yet interest. “It’s getting dark,” Rayne mumbled, getting to his feet. “Want me to walk you back?”
“Ah... sure...” I nodded, not really considering my response.
He took my hand and dragged me away, not letting go until we were several feet from the graveyard’s rusted metal fence. “That place really kind of creeps me out,” He said, “I don’t understand why you like it at all.”
“It’s quiet and peaceful at least,” I muttered. “It’s better than back there.”
He giggled very slightly. “Well, I don’t really doubt that.”
We walked in an awkward total silence. I hated the orphanage. Loathed it. It wasn’t that the people were mean or anything. Some of them seemed to wear fake plastic smiles, but they weren’t particularly mean. It was just that at my age, kids were deprived of hope. It was lifeless. We woke up, went to school, did our chores, ate, and retired. It was a never-ending cycle. A cycle that would never be broken.
I spent as much time as I could at school, gaining tons of random mundane trivia from every extra curricular activity imaginable. Then, if I was angry or something, I would hide around the graveyard sometimes, just to feel the satisfaction of breaking curfew, or go to Rayne’s house for a while maybe to play video games. But for me, there was really little escape. Nothing seemed hopeful in my life.
My spine prickled suddenly. I felt hot for a moment, and then I shivered as if someone had dropped an ice cube down my shirt. I’d felt this way before. I felt like I was being observed. Observed from afar.
“Yeah?” He paused.
“Have you ever felt the sensation of being watched constantly, as if being observed be something just out of our vision... something you can’t see?”
“I can’t really say that I have...” His voice trailed. I fell quiet as well.
We walked a bit farther. Wind whipped around my navy blue hair, snapping it in my face. It stung my cheeks slightly. Even though the air was warm, I shivered. Shivered as if I was being watched.
The moon had risen in the sky by the time we were nearly there, about 10 minutes later. I was quite tired, which was surprising to me. The concrete sidewalk seemed to grow with every step as if some cruel nightmare. Finally, we turned the last corner and the orphanage was visible.
“Alright,” Rayne announced. “We’re here.”
“I wish we weren’t...” I sighed, looking up at the building glumly.
He patted me on the head. “It will be fine.”
“Maybe.” I glanced behind me, still feeling as if someone was watching me.
“Night,” I muttered, stomping up the stone path to the door. Welcome to another day in this living hell.