ink_stained: (natsume: book)
[personal profile] ink_stained
Day #5 -

Title: By the Riverside
Fandom: Natsume Yuujinchou
Characters: Natsume Takashi
Rating: PG, warnings for bullying and minor peril
Words: (+/-) 528
Summary: A story of a boy, a strange old woman, and how sometimes, the smallest of things mean the most.
Notes: Written for writers_choice. Prompt #450 - never look back.

When Takashi was small, there was an old woman who sat under a bridge.

The bridge led to school and school was where Takashi had to go if he wanted to make his new guardians happy. The strange woman never said anything and Takashi pretended he didn’t see her. It was easier that way. She didn’t look like those strange apparitions he often saw, but he didn’t want to be fooled again. She never called out and he never looked back.

Then one day, on his way home, a group of kids snatched his school bag and threw it down to the river below. The current was fast and his bag wasn’t heavy enough to withstand the flow. It was gone before Takashi could reach the stone railing or think to cry out in alarm. The kids laughed and continued on their way, as if they hadn’t done something horrible.

He angrily thought of starting a fight, but one glance at his schoolmates and he knew he would be outnumbered. It was always like this. They didn’t like strange. They didn’t like different. And they certainly didn’t like Takashi. He was used to it, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.

Something black on the riverbank caught his eye and he was surprised to see it was his school bag. He had been so sure the current had swept it away, but there it was, as dry and safe and wrinkled as always. Relief blossomed in his chest and became the sun that burned away his anxiety.

He wouldn’t disappoint his new family after all.

Hurrying down to the river, he didn’t notice the person beside his bag until a withered hand stopped him from retrieving it. The old woman under the bridge stood there, holding him back with a strength she shouldn’t possess. Her long, gray hair still hid her face from view and she was hunched over oddly, but there she stood, as lonely and out of place and wrinkled as always.

He wondered if he should have said something, asked her if she had saved his bag, but those half-hearted words died before they took shape. She had pointed to his bag and shook her head, warning him off. Something wasn’t right, and she was trying to tell him that, but Takashi didn’t trust people. He especially didn’t trust ayakashi that masqueraded as people.

Struggling out of her firm grip, he made a grab for his bag - and then let out a shout as something snaked around his ankle and dragged him into the river. Or tried to drag him into the river. He lost consciousness after that, and all he remembered from that day was what he felt and what he heard: strong arms, a hoarse voice, and the words the old woman left behind.

“It meant more than you know that you never ran away. Never looked back, but never ran away. Thank you.”

He never saw the old woman again, but somehow, he never forget her either.

Date: 2012-08-04 07:26 pm (UTC)
hikari318: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hikari318
Oh wow, that was really interesting. Poor little Natsume ;_;
But this old lady is intriguing.

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off on an adventure

August 2012

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