On The Outside Looking In
Girls Can Be Heroes, Too
Arriana had decided to stay the night at my house after the funeral. At her wishes, we carried on like it was any other day, and were currently sitting in my room watching Anime. She was a Weeb and I was a Nerd, we fit together like two peas in a pod. She’d chosen “Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Movie” and had demanded we watch it in Japanese with subtitles. I wasn’t usually a fan of the original Japanese versions of Anime, but I put up with it for her. Now more than ever, I was determined to keep her happy.
I watched her as her eyes were fixated on the screen, mesmerized as usual by the colourful haired magical girls that journeyed through twisted labyrinths to find and slay witches. She put up this front like nothing fazed her, like she was too strong to let the world beat her down. But I could see something dancing behind those blue eyes. There was an unspoken sorrow, but I knew better than to pry. Arriana wasn’t the type to sob onto your shoulder, she never had been.
Kindergarten, I was four years old. I watched as Arriana skipped along the grassy area, riding a hobby horse. Two bright magenta fluffy scrunchies sat at the base of the braids her brown hair was pulled into that day. The sky was clear, the breeze was warm, and she laughed and played, pretending she was Link; The Hero of Time, and that the hobby horse was Epona. She picked up a stick from the ground and swung it around, claiming it to be the Master Sword.
Suddenly, a young boy with a mop of ashy blonde hair pulled the stick from her hand, and the hobby horse out from under her.
“It’s MY turn!” he cried. “Besides, girls can’t be heroes, you should be playing as Zelda, or Saria.”
“Girls can be heroes, too!” she protested. “Go away, Bert!”
Bert blew a raspberry at her and ran off, hobby horse and stick still in his hands.
She stood there, pouting, and rubbed her eyes. She never cried.
“Arri!” I called from the sandpit. “Wanna play?”
She lit up again, and skipped over, grinning from ear to ear. “It’s the Desert Oasis! Let’s build the temple entrance!”
“What’s all this Hero stuff anyway?” I asked.
“You’ve never played Zelda?”
Her jaw dropped. “Joey, we’re friends now, and you’re gonna play Zelda, okay?” she stated more than asked.
“Only if you’ll play Jedi’s with me.”
“Deal.” She smiled. “Pinky promise?”
I hooked my pinky with hers. “Promise.”
*End of Flashback*
She had always been strong and always brushed off anything and everything that ever upset her. I don’t think I had ever seen her cry. Not that day, or when her Diorama had gotten last place in the primary school Easter contest, not when her first crush had turned her down in our freshmen year of High School, and not now, as she locked away her grief over the loss of her father.
“Joey.” She spoke. “Why are you staring at me?”
“Yeah, it’s weird.”
“You’re weird.” I teased.
“Not as weird as you.”
She tilted her head to the side, thinking, and then said; “Yeah, definitely weirder.”
As the both of us laughed, my bedroom door opened. Dad eyed us for a moment, ensuring we were both above the blankets of my bed, and a safe distance apart. He wasn’t exactly strict, but he did have a thing about me having girls in my room. Having obviously determined that we were behaving ourselves, he spoke;
“Joey, I’m off to Arriana’s house.”
“Is Mom okay?” Arriana asked.
“She’s not doing so hot, no.” he admitted. “Which is why I’m going over there.”
“Should I come?”
“No, you stay here with Joey, I can’t trust he won’t burn the house down, but I can trust you to make sure it doesn’t come to that.” He chuckled.
“I’ll light a match and shove it up his ass if he tries.” She snorted.
“Hey!” I retorted.
“Okay, okay.” Bill laughed. “I’ll see you kids tomorrow.”
“Bye!” Arriana and I called after him in unison as he pulled the door closed.
It opened again. “Behave.” He said sternly, eying us off for a few moments, before closing the door once more…
Yes, yes, this and the first chapter are short. Reason being is I need to steer this into where their story in Jersey Skies begins as quickly as I can. But I wanted to give Joey and Arri a little backstory first, and I think it's really cute. I didn't give their friendship enough attention the first time around.
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