SAO opening is pretty catchy….
my days are spent looking after little kids, drawing 20 pictures of Elsa every day, wandering around this wide-open city and hanging out with my sister, getting a taste of future adult life along the way
quite a bit may change in the next 2 months
in good ways i imagine
Tucked away in the heart of each town and pockets of every city, there was a tree unlike any other. It was not the tree itself that stood out. You wouldn’t suspect anything out of the ordinary about it at a passing glance. Its deep-entrenched roots stretched up into an impressive structure somewhat akin to an oak tree. But instead of abundant, green oak leaves covering its branches, there was some other type of leaf - a leaf that, curiously, might look like thin and veined one day and broad and star-shaped the next. And amidst these leaves, there were fruit.
You could say the fruit were the real reason why this tree was so special. If you walked around the circumference of this tree (it was quite considerable and you might find yourself weaving around some of the limbs that lowered into the ground) and took in its entirety, you would notice that different fruit were growing on different branches. These fruit were of various colors and shapes, unlike anything found in grocery stores and open-air markets. Some were bright, almost neon colors, smooth and with a certain crisp to each bite. Others were lighter pastel colors, richer near the core, and soft to the touch. They each had their own distinct taste.
Our boy lived in the city, in a small alley of a quirky neighborhood somewhat removed from the city center. He had been there for at least three or four years - enough to be well acquainted with the inner workings of the urban hierarchies, but it was clear that he, like everything else in the city, was just another passerby in their ever-changing world. Strangely enough, the boy could not remember where he had been before coming to the city. It was not a result of amnesia or any head trauma. He just rarely found himself dwelling on events and places so far removed from the present. Now that it was on his mind, however, he did remember walking into the borders of this district from the outskirts of town for the first time three springs ago, carrying nothing on him but a worn glideboard.
The city was chaotic enough with its multitude of streets and structures overlapping and spilling into each other that one might not recognize it, given three years’ time. Sure, there was the old clocktower in the adjacent ward that seemed to run by its own time, sometimes skipping an hour, sometimes ticking backwards, that no one cared enough about to investigate. Or the fountain that could be found in the center of a particularly large market, which kids often pushed each other into and young lovers made wish-granting stories up about. I guess you would call those landmarks. But they were inconspicuous, and overshadowed by the constant hustle and bustle of the city, so that their equally faceless citizens were likely to take them for granted.
Even the trees. As fantastic and ingrained into the people’s lives as they were, no one - not the boy, not anyone around him - seemed to have any idea where they came from, how long they had been there, or even how many could be found in their city. He could probably find answers if he looked hard enough, but that was the issue; there was so much going on at all times, all around him, that every single one of those things began to seem trivial. It seemed meaningless to pursue anything when the effects would just be buried among the endless happenings in this living metropolis.
The boy did not remember the people he had talked to or what the weather was like on the day he had first set foot into this place, but he could describe the day he discovered the secret of the trees in unusual detail. He could tell you about the silvery-white clouds that drifted from one horizon to the other quicker than normal that day, about the kids he had been with - Matthew, always grinning; Noah, somewhat demure; silent Yuki. They’d taken a liking to him immediately on their first meeting by the clocktower, despite having started playing together months before his arrival. Part of it was fascination with his old glideboard, which was able to levitate and even propel a lean boy like him a good few meters into the air, the likes of which they’d only seen in the snippets of films they’d caught peering over the wall of the local cinema. Most of it was how perfectly he fit, his presence fusing effortlessly into theirs. A missing piece that created a much more complete balance between the four of them. A month into their friendship, which seemed like much longer, they had led him behind the clocktower where a tree towered over a patch of earth, sunlight leaking through its abundant leaves onto a pile of rubble with grass and roots and plants growing through its cracks. Or maybe the pile of rubble had crumbled upon the vegetation; it was hard to tell.
Since then, he had gravitated towards this tree, perhaps because it was the first one he’d identified, or because it was out of the way, behind the clocktower that most didn’t look at twice. He found comfort in the fact that the tree, like his friends, seemed simply to exist in all its candid splendor, imperfections and all. There was the nook in one of the limbs that became his favorite spot, below the branch that Yuki liked to look out at the skyline from. The gnarly root that Matthew tended to trip over every time they came together, the sunflowers that Noah had planted at the base of the trunk. The fruit on this tree grew in no particular pattern, unlike many of the others found throughout the city. They were also found in varying shapes and conditions, rather than in uncanny uniformity that spelled human interference.
They had stopped under the tree to drink the lemonade they’d made from the lemons in Noah’s small garden at home when a cream-colored fruit fell to the ground nearby. He’d picked it up, turning it around in his hand as Matthew shrugged. He took a bite. And then the strangest feeling came over him.
Suddenly, he couldn’t remember what he had been feeling a moment ago, arriving at the tree with the three. There was the sensation of looking into a gaping, hollow space that came into focus for a brief moment. Then, vague tinges of unpleasant feelings rose one by one from different parts of his brain - nausea, lethargy, drunkenness - passing before he could comprehend each one. Finally, as the taste dissipated from his tongue, it began to go away. Relief from the shade under the sun, slight weariness from the hot trek back from Noah’s, a generic contentedness at being with his friends on a nice day out - his previous psyche settled back into its rightful place in his mind as if it had never left.
He blinked. Matthew was slicing the last lemon with his pocket knife while Noah pulled glasses out of his rucksack. Yuki was looking at him with a bewildered expression.
”What do you mean, ‘what’? Are you okay?”
The boy looked down at the fruit, glistening innocently where he’d bitten into. “Yeah… listen.”
He recounted the experience as best he could to the three. Matthew picked at a lemon peel as he listened, and Yuki was as quiet as ever. Noah was the first to speak after he finished.
”I think I’ve heard of something like that. There are some of the odd sort who hang around our street at night, the kind my mom tells me to stay away from. Something about eating things that do strange things to you. Maybe this is it?”
”But why would anyone want to eat it? It felt really… I sure don’t want to touch it again.” The boy winced.
”Well, there’s other fruit growing here, right?” Noah looked up.
”Yeah, and knowing your luck, you probably just picked the bad apple.” Matthew flicked a lemon seed directly into Yuki’s eye. “Ack, sorry.”
From then on, they knew. The next week, in another part of town, Yuki pointed up wordlessly as they walked down the road. Purple star-shaped fruit hanging from branches high up, yellow-green berries growing in bunches below them, somewhat obscured by a tattered-looking shop selling some kind of juice made from the two. Two days later, a flashing advertisement on one of the billboards high up that Noah commented on (he was quicker than the rest of them to notice these things that they considered more relevant to adults), though it was gone before the boy could make out what the picture was.
He began to notice them everywhere. As years went by, they rarely took precedence in his thoughts, but his understanding of them, of what they meant for the people around him, grew with every encounter they had. Every sight of a new kind, that he would start collecting to bring to Noah so he could add it to his collection of sketches, and possibly the garden. The occasional piece of news Matthew would bring from his other social comings and goings, of other people seeking specific types, bartering in the markets, recommending recipes to one another. The pastry baked with bits of a “special” red fruit that the old woman had given him as thanks for helping her carry groceries home, which had given him mild, yet noticeable, tinglings of happiness with each bite, followed by a pleasant drowsiness.
They were just another type of food, but the fruit were an essential part of people’s lives. They were valued not for their scent, taste, or even nutrition, but the effect they had on people’s emotions. And they weren’t all like what Noah’s mother warned them away from. Eat a morsel of boldness before an important meeting. Have wine infused with introspective nostalgia. Like well-paired seasoning to a meal, fruit added color and flair to people’s days. They were indulgences, but far more reaching than the traditional smokes and drinks. As time passed, it became apparent. People remedied themselves with the fruit. The boy hated that term - remedy - as if feelings, idiosyncrasies to a person, were something to be fixed and manipulated to one’s fancy.
But it happened. In subtle, unobtrusive ways, but constantly.
remember when Lightning got super pissed at Hope and it stressed her out so much that the giant steampunk Norse god Odin exploded out of her tattoo and tried to murder them both
yeah I connect to that on a spiritual level when I’m trying to pass my finals