Song: Out There, Hunchback of Notre Dame
Closing the door with a sharp snap, I ran into the center of my room. Not a soul in here, not even Kuma today. Usually he was snuggled deep into my covers, edging out all the warmth he could. I was honestly glad to see he was gone, soon I wouldnt be alone and didnt want Kuma to see. I knew it, he would be here soon and he would be furious. I sank to the ground, landing on my knees. I wanted to cry, run or hide any of those options would have been better than what was about to happen. Oh, he would be so mad with me over what had happened today at the world conference center. Slowly, I ran my fingers through my short blond, wavy hair, and gripped the sides of my head. How could I have been so stupid as to go out there? To have allowed myself to be acknowledged by the others. To have been seen without permission? I folded myself up, bringing my chest to my knees. He was going to be so mad, and he would definitely be here soon.
Of course, he would have every right to be mad with me. After all, he had always warned me they would act like that if I was seen without his permission. Today did not go as I had planned, it was supposed to be a normal day at the conference center. With the others ignoring me like they always had, refusing to even see me like I was ghost. I hated it but he told me I was too weak to understand that if they really saw me they would scorn and jeer. He had always told me I was too weak to be out there, so he guarded me. Kept me invisible from the others, not allowing me to be seen or heard. After a long time of this, I became restless. I just wanted to try one day, out there, to be normal with them. I suppose I must have finally become strong enough. Today, I must have pushed him away somehow, thats the only explanation as to why they could hear me when I spoke out. I gripped my head tighter, he would be furious with me for disobeying him.
My stupid brother Alfred started all this, he was the one who had been acting out at the meeting. Even if they couldnt see me, I could see them. Ive watched them all my life, behaving like children, taking every day they had been given for granted. Day in and day out they would argue and yell at each other about pointless things that didnt have any relation to the current issues of the world, it had become so routine. It drove me insane, why couldnt they see they had freedom and that they were wasting every single minute of it. It wasnt fair, there he was arguing with Arthur and Francis again, for the third time in at least that hour and I had just rolled my eyes. My annoyance had built up and I let one little flip comment escape my mouth and suddenly they could all see me. Even worse, they had all heard me.
Curling up tighter, I thought back on what had happened. Theyre cruel words still ringing in my head. Who are you? they all had jeered at me, surprised that a stranger could so easily walk into the mist of nation representatives. Not only that, it was also that I had the audacity to have a hateful word against America. I tried to tell them I was one of them, a nation. Im Canada for crying out loud! They threw hateful, scorn filled looks at me. They told me I couldnt possibly be a nation, they had never seen me before. Quietly I let out a sob, thinking back on the look Francis, Arthur and Alfred had given me. My own family didnt even recognize me anymore. After that, they had security come and throw me out of the conference hall. Like I was some ugly monster that didnt belong, it had been a horrible experience but at the same time oddly gave me a bit of hope.
All these years of him telling me I wasnt strong enough to be out there, that they wouldnt understand. Was he right? I was conflicted about what had happened today, it was like he had said it would but also different. I didnt know what to think. I felt a shiver run down my spine, oh God, he was almost here. He scared me more than anything but I knew I had to face him. Mostly to apologize for what I had done but there was something else I wanted to ask him.
The door never opened and the windows were sealed tightly shut but suddenly there was someone beside me. He leaned down to my ear, I could almost feel the hot breath on my cheek.
How do you expect me to protect you, unless you always stay inside? That was a dumb move today. He said harshly, moving around so that he was in front of me. Most people would have been surprised at the sight of themselves standing in front of them but not me, I was just scared. It had happened many times before. I was over the initial shock a long time ago.
I was fighting myself.
His posture was relaxed and clam, but I could sense he was angry. That emotion always seemed to ooze from him but today it was ten times worse. I could have sworn it hung thick in the air as I watched him fold his arms in front of him waiting for an answer to his question. I straightened up slightly and looked at him.
I-I didnt expect them to hear me. They werent supposed to hear me. I-Im sorry. I whispered, concentrating hard on the floor. He took a step forward and the next I knew he was wrenching my head by my chin to look at him.
You liked it didnt you? Even though they were hateful and cruel, you liked the attention. He said, his eyes flashing between my purple colored ones and then his red ones. I stared back in shock. How could he possibly know? Know that I wanted to do it again, to be seen. Maybe next time they would be used to me, I could show them I was a nation. It had been the breakthrough I had been looking for, and even though I was scared of the repercussions he was right. I did like it. I nodded at him. Today was the day, I was finally going to tell him how I felt. What I had started to think about constantly.
Maybe, i-if you let me be seen for just o-one day out there, I think t-they wouldnt be so h-hateful next time. I whimpered. The grip on my chin got tighter.
Yea? You know what I think, I think youre ungrateful to me. He hissed at me. I cringed back involuntarily, that certainly wasnt going to help matters. He yanked hard on me to pull me back closer, and I shook my head fervently.
No! I dont mean that at all! I cried out. I would give anything for him to let go of me. His grip was getting tighter and tighter. He cocked his head and smiled.
Thats what it sounds like. Ive kept you hidden and safe all these years, since you fully accepted the duties of your nation and this is how you repay me? Pushing me aside to go out there? He asked, finally shoving me down flat on the floor. I quickly gathered myself back onto my knees, hugging my waist tightly. He was right, when I turned 16 and truly became the representative of Canada, he had shown up. My family had stopped seeing or acknowledging me after that, it was like I had never existed. It was hard at first and I didnt understand why but I got used to it after a while, I had him to keep me company most of the time. I was grateful to him, I couldnt be anything but.
I just wanted one day out there. I guess I didnt realize you were gone before I spook. I swear! I pleaded. He started circling me, taking long strides with his arms still tucked firmly in front of him.
Just want one day eh? Well, you see what your one moment got you right? Thrown completely out of the conference center. You had a moment of weakness where you doubted me, where you werent faithful to me anymore and look where it got you. He replied softly. His voice masked the anger, even though he sounded collected. I was frightened, I had never felt his anger getting this strong. Maybe this would be the breaking point, maybe one of us would win this time. It was time I took I stand, this had to be the moment I had been hoping for.
All I ask for is just one day! Thats it, then I swear Ill be content and let you go on protecting me like you always have! I yelled. I watched him pinch the bridge of his nose, just underneath his glasses, and sigh.
Why would you want to invite that on yourself? More of that anger and consternation? I told you they wouldnt show you any pity and I was right. Why do you want that so badly? Is what Ive already given you not enough? He asked, kneeling down in front of me again. This time he didnt grab me or touch me, he was just staring. In some ways, that was worst. I could tell he was searching me, trying to read me for the information he wanted. I panicked.
No! Youve been so good to me! Just want to see what its like to be an ordinary country! Like everyone else! I quickly replied. He raised his eyebrows at me, still searching.
Youre lying to me. You want me gone for good dont you? He asked coolly, placing his hand around my neck. He didnt tighten his grip, just held his icy fingers there. He was trying to scare me, and it was working. I started to tremble hard, I wished he would take away his hand. This had been a mistake after all, I should have known I would never win against him. Slowly, I reached up and grabbed his wrist. Just slightly his fingers tensed and he shook his head. This was not going well, he needed to get out of here, away from me! As I struggled against his grip, I felt powerless but something told me to persist.
Im not lying! Please, just let me have one day without you! I screamed. I knew instantly that had been a mistake as well. His fingers squeezed my neck and he drew me in close. Now his face was inches from mine, our noses bumped each other. His eyes had gone completely over to red and he was staring at me hard. Once again, I had lost to him.
Without me? I am your only friend, you wouldnt make it out there without me defending you. He jeered, like the others at the conference center. I started to squirm, I had never done that before against him. Wait, was I actually fighting back this time? Even he looked a little shocked. I guess it wasnt that so surprising, I wanted him to get away so badly, my other self. However, I knew I couldnt win on my own. This was crazy, I needed a rescue from me. But if he was right and he was my only friend, who was going to come save me?
Suddenly, there was a pounding on the door. A panicked, frantic pounding. Like the person on the other side was scared and worried. Who could that be? Only Kuma should be here with me, and he wasnt able to bang like that. The banging continued until I heard a muffled voice. I couldnt believe it when I heard him, it was like a Godsend.
Birdie? Vhats going on in there? Are you ok? Vhy is the door locked? This is unawesome Birdie, you know I dont like unawesomeness! Gilbert yelled, banging and jiggling the handle of the door. I sighed in relief, I did have one friend. The only other friend besides Kuma he had allowed me to have. He had thought Gilbert was ok enough to see me, because he was an ex-nation. He didnt matter to him at all but Gil mattered to me. This was my other-selfs mistake. I actually smiled despite the grip on my neck getting tighter.
I dont have to obey you anymore! I have sanctu- I tried to yell but was cut off, he started choking me. I coughed and sputtered, my airways closing. How was this happening? How could I be willingly choking myself? Gil, hurry and get in here, I thought. I took a rasping breath that could apparently be heard through the door, the banging got more frantic.
Is someone in there vith you Birdie?! Hang on, I vont let them attack mien awesome fruend! He yelled. I heard some slamming noises. It was hard to concentrate, my vision was getting darker and I could barely breath anymore. He just looked at me with contempt and kept squeezing my neck. Just when I was about to give in and let him have complete control again, the door burst open showering me with splinters.
I have to admit, it must have been a highly confusing scene to bust in on. I was huddled in the middle of the floor on my knees, alone, gripping my own throat tightly. He had never been there, it had been me the whole time but that didnt make it less real. I knew that was what Gilbert must be seeing. Myself, I could still see him reaching up with his other hand to get more leverage. I felt my eyes begin to bulge, this was it. Gil, however, didnt hesitate for a moment and raced over to my side.
In one swift motion, he wrenched my hand from my neck and I started to cough and wheeze. He couldnt see it but he had pushed my other self aside, making him land hard on the floor. All it took was one quick glance at me and his spirit, I suppose you could say, flew back into me. I arched my back and screamed in pain making Gil jump. I shook my head, no he had to leave tonight. I wasnt having him live in me anymore. I didnt care if the others would see me and hate me, I wanted him gone. I reached over and seized the extra bit of hoodie settled on Gilberts hips, looking straight into his eyes.
Gil, I just want him out of here. Please, help me. I whispered, I could feel him inside of me fighting to gain control again. Gils eyes grew wide and he placed his hands gently on the side of my face.
Vhy have your eyes gone red? Vhat are you- He started. I shook my head violently and he almost had to dig his fingers in to my skin keep ahold of me. He never did let go though.
He doesnt need you, he has me. The world is cruel and wicked, I am the only one he can ever trust. Leave us alone. I heard myself growl at Gil. It wasnt my voice but his. Oh no, Gil was going to freak out and run. He was going to leave me here alone with this monster. Why was this happening? I let a tear roll down my face, I should have known having Gil was too much of a good thing. To my complete amazement, Gil bought my face close to his, like my other self had done only Gil wasnt talking to me.
Nien, its you mien Birdie does not need. He has me now, I am his sanctuary. You leave him alone. Gilbert said with more anger than I had ever heard from him. I started crying hard, he was trying to rescue me. I had to fight back too. I felt all my muscles seize and I gripped Gils hoodie even tighter, turning my knuckles white.
Hes right, I dont need you to protect me anymore. I can do it on my own, I claim Gil as my sanctuary. Leave me alone! I screamed. Instantly, I knew that had done it, that had pushed him over the edge of anger. All at once, it felt like my insides where revolting against me. Every organ, blood vessel, bone, and tissue, it didnt matter, it all seemed to convulse at that one moment. I started breathing hard and Gil laid me down gently with my back on the floor. I looked up at him, scared, still convulsing and seizing. Softly he brushed back my hair, telling me everything was going to be ok now. I continued to convulse for several more moments, I didnt think I was ever going to stop.
Then, this light, excited feeling sweep over me and it all eased up. I started to relax, I had full control over my limbs again. It was over, I could sense that he was gone. My other self, he was finally gone for good. Panting, I smiled up at Gil who gave me a reassuring nod and smile in return.
I sat up more quickly then I probably should have and threw myself into his arms. He wrapped them around me tight, it was then I knew I was finally safe. Not safe in the false sense the other had given me but truly safe. I nestled deep into his chest, listening to his heart beat like I was hearing it for the first time. It was a beautiful sound, I wished I could listen to it forever. I was still trembling slightly, taking ragged breaths as fast as my chest would allow and he rubbed my back gently.
Its ok now Birdie. You are free to be out here with the rest of us. He said, I listened to his voice reverberate around his chest and it made me smile. All I could do was nod, still unable to speak.
Finally, I could have my day out there with nothing to resent or despair.