The Lives In Town

“I like it here. It’s warm.” He says to himself, walking along the moon-soaked streets. Streetlights smiling at the child of curiosity, wandering to places traveled by many and enjoyed by all. The town plaza is built of the finest concrete that money can buy. The town fountain spills water that’s fresh enough to drink but is wasted to act as a festivity for those who aren’t burdened with the curse of thirst. Statues of individuals whose names have been etched into history but are nothing more than a generic pose to the ignorant passerby.

“I guess I can eat my lunch here.” The boy says, thinking aloud. He takes a seat at the edge of the fountain, feeling refreshed from the sprinkles of dew that graciously bless his hair.

The streetlights are shining with a new sense of purpose, giving the child a chance to enjoy his night lost in the ambiance of the evening.

What does this kid know about anything? The concrete has been here since he could open his eyes, water is a common site to him, and he thinks that the statue looks cool. Just let him eat his food in peace. It’s rare for a night like this to feel so warm and cozy.

“What should I eat first?” The boy asks himself aloud, a smile expanding from cheek to cheek.

What is a child doing so late out at night? Doesn’t he have parents that are around to take care of him? The only way that this could happen is if his parents don’t care for him, or they’re just extremely irresponsible!

“I guess I can start with my apple. The fruits are always the first to go.”

Some might say that it’s bold to assume that every kid has parents waiting at home for them. In a world full of chaos, you never know who’s responsible for their upbringing. This kid could be getting raised by a shoebox for all we know.

“Or maybe I should start with my sandwich…?”

A shoebox? Really? Don’t be so ridiculous! If a child doesn’t have parents, then they have some form of guardian that watches over them, and that guardian isn’t doing a great job right now.

“I would like to start with the sandwich… but the bread is so thick. I’d get full from eating only half of this.”

What’s wrong with letting a kid enjoy a peaceful night alone? He has to move out of his parent’s house one day whether he likes it or not. Might as well get him used to the feeling of independence, whether it’s doing chores all day, or learning to enjoy your own company. It may seem natural, but there’s a lot of people who can’t sit right in their own skin.

“And I forgot to pack candy! How could I forget the most essential part of a meal?”

What makes you think that he’ll “need” to move out? Any parent or caretaker will take care of their young for as long as they need to. It’s in the DNA of every creature. What sense would it make to cast out what you’ve loved for over twenty years?

“Whatever. I’ll just eat my sandwich and head back home.”

Because they start to overstay their welcome. Do you know how birds learn to fly? Their mothers throw them out of their nest and flap their wings as hard as they can, and if they fly, great. Now they can fend for themselves, but if not. They’re stuck on the ground, bound to get eaten by a snake.

What!? Their mothers don’t force them to learn how to fly. They make their leap out of the nest on their own.

And have you ever seen a full-grown bird still living in its nest with its mother?

No.

That’s because leaving the nest is in the DNA of every creature, just as much as nursing your young is. If you don’t have the natural urge to seek your own independence one day, you’re either living your best life already, or you’re just fat and lazy.

I guess you have a point, but I refuse to believe that years of love can be easily thrown away.

It does happen, but I doubt it’s ever easy. You’re free to believe whatever you want at the end of the day.

“Hey, Rein! What’re you doing out so late!?” A voice calls to the young boy. He lets his head wander, in search of where the voice came from. “Up here,” The voice calls again.

“Rein! Did your parents let you out this late at night?” The boy named Rein, brings his head up, spotting another child calling out to him from a window high up in one of the buildings surrounding the plaza.

“No! I asked my babysitter if I can eat my dinner outside!”

“What’re you eating!?”

“A sandwich!”

“Why are you eating a sandwich for dinner!? Just go eat real food inside!”

“Why do you care so much, Ryan!? Go back to bed!”

“Can you two shut up!” The voice of a young girl blares, sounding more than irritated. “It’s too late for you two to be screaming!”

“Then why are you screaming, Victoria!?”

“No one asked you, Ryan! Say something to me again and I’ll wake up my mom so she can beat you!”

“Your mom can’t beat me! That’s illegal! Only my mom can beat me!”

“Then I’ll ask my mom to ask your mom to beat you!”

“Both of you shut your mouths!” A terrifying voice, brimming with maturity makes itself present. “If I hear another word out of either of you, then I’ll your dreams for the rest of your lives!” In a flash, both children zip their heads back into their homes, the yellow light turning into comforting darkness. “And you! Get inside before I come down there and bring you to your house myself!”

“Y—Yes sir!” The boy forgets all about the world of peace that he was immersed in. The streetlights don’t matter, the fountain is just an obnoxious pool of water, and who cares about the statues? They’re just poses of random people.

He picks up his “dinner” and runs for the entrance of his building as quickly as he can.

Huh… I never considered that caretaking can come from strangers as well.

I take a village they say.

“Hello? Is anyone home?” A young woman asks from the other end of the door. She pounds the door with furious aggression but speaks with such a polite tone. She’s been banging on the door for a while now but refuses to wait until morning to come back.

She doesn’t have anything better to do tonight. The night is so warm and comforting, but this woman chooses to hammer away on this door all night. An odd choice, but everyone is free to do what they want with themselves, even if they’re wasting their time. “I know you have to be home. Where else could you be this late at night?” The woman doubles down, letting her obnoxious attitude fester in the hallway of the building.

“There are other people trying to sleep!” A man from a faraway door screams, but the woman isn’t fazed at all.

“Don’t you realize what you’re doing? You’re ruining sleep for everyone on your floor. I know you’re awake in there.”

The young woman’s voice travels down the halls, and soon, there was no noise at all. One might think that peace has finally returned to the eighth floor of Astoria’s apartment complex. But they’d be dead wrong.

Right before the woman’s knuckles could assault the surface of the door again, locks begin to clink and clank, until the door reveals another young woman on the other side. She looks miserable, her hair frayed and pointing in all sorts of directions. It wouldn’t be hard to convince a child that this is the true form of a witch.

“What do you want, Reya,” The Witch grumbles.

“I knew you were hiding in there. What took you so long? There’s no way you were doing something important at this time of day.”

“It’s the middle of the night.”

“Nighttime doesn’t actually exist because once the clock hits twelve, it’s already morning, so it’s either early morning or late morning.”

“It’s late morning then…” The Witch groans with hopelessness escaping her breathe.

“Then why didn’t you sleep earlier this morning?”

“Because I was working earlier this morning, not that you’d understand the concept of working.”

“Oh, I work. Just not often. And because I don’t work often, it’s not often that you see me miserable, unlike you.” The Witch is left speechless. She’d love to let her fantasies loose and punch this woman so hard, that her neck will be stuck at a ninety-degree angle.

“Tell me what you’re here for before I gut you like a pig.” It would be hilarious to see her try, but The Witch knows that she can’t risk getting evicted, so an exaggerated threat will have to do.

“I’m here because I have this to give to you.” The young woman reaches into her pocket and pulls out a small package wrapped in brown paper. “It’s addressed to you, but the delivery boy brought it over to my door. I’ve been trying to get it to you for the past couple of days now, but you’re either not home, or you’re too busy to answer the door.”

The Witch snatches the package from the young woman’s hand with blinding speed. “Did you open it?”

“No, I never even thought about it. I was just surprised to see a package small enough to fit into my pocket.”

“Well… thanks.” Oh. This is new. It seems that The Witch is choosing to ditch her miserable ways and is showing her neighbor a little bit of gratitude. “But next time, please just leave it at the door. I don’t want people getting mad at me for you banging on my door.”

“Why would they get mad at me for that?”

“Because everyone is trying to sleep, and here’s some weirdo slamming my door as hard as she can, telling me that she knows that I’m here.”

“Well, you are here. Aren’t you?”

“Just leave it at my door next time.”

“But what if someone steals it?”

“I can just order a replacement. I’d rather have that over my neighbors hating me for you breaking my door down.”

“Your line of logic isn’t making much sense. If I were the one slamming on the door, then why would you get in trouble for that? If anything, they’d call the police on me and have me detained.”

“That’s even worse than me getting yelled at. Just stop slamming on my door so late at night.”

“Okay!”

“Have a goodnight.”

“Will do.”

The best friendships blossom from the seeds of misunderstanding. Once the smoke of ignorance clears on both sides, all that’s left is the clarity to reflect on what’s shared between people. Whether it be a group or a pair. Any mistake can be turned into a miracle.

“Oh! I forgot to ask you something,” Reya pleads, sticking her foot in the door.

“What is it?”

“I know you’re poor and can’t afford food often, so I thought I’d bring you a little snack!” Reya rummages through her pockets and pulls out a dozen of flat strips of plastic, thin enough to slip into the smallest of cracks.

“Snacks?”

“Yeah, they’re snacks, just watch.” Reya slaps puts the rest into her pockets, leaving one in her hand. “I was cleaning my apartment and I found an entire box of Galaxy Gummies in my kitchen. I use to love them but the sugar was making me super hyperactive.”

“You’re giving me wrappers to eat? Are you trying to be funny?”

“Wrappers? Oh! Hold on, just watch.” Reya puts out her hand and starts to shake the plastic slip as hard as she can. Small sprinkles of yellow jump into the air and melt right away. The plastic slip starts to pop up in size, revealing a wrapper decorated in a beautiful midnight purple with dark blue strips running parallel across it. Before they knew it, there was a wrapper brimming with gummies before the both of them. “Getting the gummies to pop is the best part! It’s always satisfying to me.”

“Oh! I remember those. They used to be everywhere when I was a kid. They’re so rare now.”

“Really? Well, it makes no never mind to me. You can have as many as you like.”

“I mean, I never said I liked them but yeah. And that’s not really real food either. If I get addicted, I’ll be malnourished in no time.” The Witch groans, slowly easing back into her apartment.

“Oh… that’s a shame. What type of foods did you eat as a kid? I loved to eat this dish called Estuary Surprise. It was this weird soup that has an assortment of different flavors and seasonings floating around in it with a bunch of different colors. Each stream of seasonings was like their own private rivers. I was eating three soups all at once!”

“I liked anything that was edible. Now I don’t mean to be rude but I have to get up early tomorrow, Reya. Thanks for delivering my package.”

“Oh… No problem.” Yet again, Poor Reya’s attempts at boding are crushed under the power of The Witch’s demanding work schedule. With her head held low, The Witch stubs Reya’s toe until it sees itself out the doorway, the crack of the door lock stabbing into Reya’s heart.

As much as it hurts to have good intentions feel so minuscule, the night is still young Reya. There’s much for you to go explore in Astoria, even while being unemployed.

As if she can feel a presence calling to her, Reya picks up her head and huffs out a sigh, releasing her negativity, and begins to walk down the hall. Where could she be going? Who knows, but her sudden look of determination shows that it isn’t going to be back home any time soon.

“That girl never knows when to quit.” Finally, The Witch is able to rest in her humble abode, free from the tyranny of Reya, the oversized child.

The witch stretches out her back, feeling relieved to have no one bothering her for the time being. Heading back to bed would be the most optimal decision, but the fierce banging on her door is still prominent in her mind. The lights in her apartment are already on, forcing her into an alert state. It would be a workout to try to go back to sleep at this point.

“Uck.” The Witch groans, finishing her stretch. It’s the accursed dilemma of those that live alone. Being far too tired to fall back asleep. This curse is normally rare but is consistent for some, and there’s no clear method to rid of its effects. All one can do is cope.

The witch eyes her package with a suddenly serious gaze but then tosses it onto her couch in a nonchalant motion. “Great, now Reya has got my mind all active. That girl needs to get herself a boyfriend,” The Witch grumbles, groaning to herself. “I didn’t even get the package from him either. It was just the stickers I ordered. Whatever, I’ll open them later. I’ll lose my mind and stick them wherever I please, instead of calculating their placements on my walls.” Any reasonable person would question why she’s ranting to herself about stickers, but it’d be best to let her enjoy herself. There are very few activities that make her mentally stimulated in this world.

But if not the stickers, then what is she to do? The most fun activity she can come up with is standing in front of her door, waiting for something interesting to happen.

“Who am I kidding, I don’t have self-control.” In a flash, The Witch sprints to her couch and snatches up the package. With great dexterity, she rips it open and scours through the bubble wrap, retrieving her set of stickers. “Let’s see what we’ve got here… demon puppy, atomic banana, flower scythe, electric beetle, laser shooting bear cub, and flamethrower anteater. This pack is alright, I like this flower scythe a lot though.” The Witch is lost in her own world of childish eye candy. One could say that it’s better than practicing actual witchcraft, but opinions differ from person to person.

Now, with her mind occupied, The Witch hops over her couch and takes a hefty seat, enthralled by her adhesive wonders. “I don’t know where to put any of these. They’re not cute enough to go on the cute side of my room, and not dangerous enough to go on the dangerous side of my room. These stickers are too wishy-washy. This flower scythe functions as cute and dangerous at the same time. The same goes for the demon puppy and electric beetle. I guess the electric beetle can function as mysterious, but its eyes are too cute for me to make that call. I mean, I do have a lot on my mysterious wall already…”

Who would’ve thought that The Witch could have such a wholesome hobby? Perhaps her prickly nature towards her neighbors is just stress from work, or these stickers are a loud cry for help. Maybe the stickers represent more than silly colors and creations, it could represent a silent cry for help, for a friend or two, maybe even a lover to accompany her?

“But there’s nothing cute about electricity. If I were to touch this thing, I’d get fried in seconds. Man, whatever! It’s too late for this anyways.” Before she could get ankle-deep in her sticker dilemma, The Witch hops herself off of the couch, as if she has just received a great call to action. What could that call be exactly? A call from the forever-running savior of edibles.

“Maybe I’ll have a snack,” The Witch says aloud, not realizing that every one of her thoughts doesn’t need to be verbalized. “I went to the market yesterday so I should have some stuff stocked up in the fridge, at least I hope I do.” With a hopeful heart and an empty stomach, The Witch opens her fridge to see what could be waiting inside.

“Let’s see… Oh! I still have some Stardew Pasta leftover. I forgot I ever ordered this.” With a growl from her stomach, The Witch takes the plastic bowl of pasta, ready to dig into her meal.

Ready for her intake of carbs, she removes the cover and the sweet scent of pasta wafts into her nose. The spaghetti noodles lay dormant in the purple mass of cooled-down sauce. On occasion, the sauce glows with its beautiful pink and black spices, offering a light show for the lucky eater. When the pasta is at its freshest, the sauce is a deep purple and all of the spices glow a bright white. It doesn’t last long but it’s a sight to behold.

“I hope it’s not too late to eat this. The colors look all weird.” The Witch grabs a fork from out of her drawer, not bothering to warm up her meal. Stardew Pasta can be eaten hot or cold. It offers a different taste depending on its temperature. Sweet when cool and zesty when hot.

She dips her fork and twists with conviction, expecting the best from her meal. “Hrm…” The Witch chews with patience, letting the sauce sit on her tongue, giving her taste buds a chance to savor the flavors.

The sweetness isn’t overbearing and mixes in well with a slightly bitter taste. The flashes of bitterness make the sweet taste stand out even more than it should, putting a smile on the witch’s face. “Oh, this is still pretty good.”

Huh… It’s strange to see The Witch genuinely enjoy something. No sour face, no hints of sarcasm or spite. She’s just eating her meal in bliss. Huh… there’s not much to say about this. I guess The Witch isn’t so bitter after all.

Wait… Is “The Witch” even her real name? It could be a real name for some or an obnoxious title for a few, but in the end, does it really even matter?

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