Alice in the Massacre - Chapter 36
Arc 5 – Twins
This was a world of beauty. The sun was beaming gently on the ground, the greenery was lush, the birds were singing and the insects were chirping. The air was fragrant with sweet scents and the temperature was quite pleasant.
“Why are you being so nice to me, Raffi?”
Alice sat down at the base of a… tree on the edge of the forest and asked Raffi, who was seated next to her. The young man with the mosaic face lowered the backpack he was carrying and turned his head towards Alice.
“One, because I’m the navigator of this labyrinth system.”
Upon hearing this, Alice tore her gaze away from Raffi and embraced her knees.
“I… I guess so.”
“And the other one is…”
Raffi retrieved an apple from his backpack and presented it to Alice.
“It’s because I like you.”
Alice’s ears grew red as she received the apple. He also brought out an apple for himself and Raffi chewed on it. After a while of chewing the apple, Alice gazed up at the forest with the sun streaming through the trees.
“How long can I stay here?” She asked shortly afterwards.
Raffi answered with a small smile. “Until you do not wish to be here anymore.”
“This is the world you wish for. A world that heals you, fulfills you and heals your broken heart. So you can stay here if you want to, and leave if you don’t want to. The freedom is yours.”
Alice stared at the surface of the apple for a moment, but eventually took another small bite. A sweet smell and taste permeated her mouth. She swallowed the apple pieces and muttered softly.
“My mother hits me badly.”
Raffi chewed on the apple as he listened in silence to Alice’s words.
“Sometimes she even whipped me. I’ve been slapped in the face. You’re not my child. That’s what she said.” Holding the apple, Alice pulled her knees together and buried her face in them. “… Dad would shove me down to bed every night at… I cried and begged him to stop, but he wouldn’t. He always finishes by warning me not to mention it to anyone around me, because if I do, terrible things will happen.”
“No one will save me. Nobody will be kind to me. In that world, I’m not supposed to exist.”
“I see…” Raffi then reached out and patted Alice on the head. “It was harsh, wasn’t it?”
When she heard this, tears welled up in Alice’s eyes.
“… That night, my mother pointed a knife at me and my father in bed…”
“Only that day she returned early. I thought she would help me. Because she’s my mother.”
“But then she drew the knife upon me.”
The apple fell from Alice’s hand. She covered her face with her hands and burst into tears. Her shoulders were trembling.
“My dad, who never left me like that, ran straight away… I was in pain, I was scared, I couldn’t do anything about it… And then…”
“The next thing I knew, Raffi was there…”
Raffi was quietly listening to Alice. He bit the apple again, picked up Alice’s fallen apple, and brushed the dirt off with the sleeve of his clothes.
“That’s the reality. You have me next to you. Next to me is you. That’s the ‘truth’ that surrounds you now, Alice.”
Handing Alice the apple, Raffi hugged her small body. Laying her head on Raffi’s chest, Alice sobbed and gripped his clothes.
“I don’t want to go back to that world. I want to be with you forever until I die.”
Raffi stared down at Alice with his mosaic face. His expression was unreadable. However, he tilted his head as if smiling and then answered.
“You’re right. Then you can stay here forever.”
“It’s up to you to decide. No one can threaten that right, and you are allowed to do so.”
“Aren’t you tired of being with me all the time, Raffi? Isn’t it exhausting?”
The young man in the mosaic shrugged his shoulders.
“Why are you asking that?”
“Please…” Alice nuzzled her head into Raffi’s clothes and spoke in a shaky voice. “Please don’t hate me… Please, Raffi…. need me… Tell me you like me again…”
Raffi fell silent briefly. Then he reached out and pulled Alice’s small body to him and slowly stroked her back.
“I have to be with you. You are the reason I am allowed to exist. Please don’t think of yourself as someone who is unnecessary. Alice. Without you, I can’t even exist here.”
“I love you, Alice. So stop crying. Above all, when you cry, it makes… me sad too.”
Alice buried her face in Rafi’s chest and gave a small shake of her head as she let out sobs.
The birds could be heard chirping. Butterflies fluttered around the area.
Time flowed around the two of them as they remained for a while. Slowly and quietly.
And then Alice, tired of crying, started to swoon in her sleep. Raffi placed the remains of the apple on the ground, pulled his backpack over his shoulder, and gently picked Alice up. He remained there for a minute, his face hidden behind the mosaic, gazing down at her tear-streaked sleeping face.
“Alice…” Raffi said in a small voice. “One day, you shall be healed. And when you do…”
The wind swept by; Raffi’s little murmur was drowned out by it and then disappeared.
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