The day has passed like any other. Kai was sitting in front of his computer, browsing some news. In the background, the speaker played soft music. The sun shone through the curtains, conveying a light shade of linen to the small workroom. In the corner, the canvas and the painting tools lay dusted, piled one on the top of the other.
Kai stared at the screen with his tired, green eyes occasionally humming along with the familiar song. His brown locks fell in his vision, but he couldn't bother to push them away. They were getting way too long, but he was putting off the visit to a hair salon like a plague.
He got up from the chair, stretched his arms to the sides and slowly walked to the kitchen. After opening the fridge, he pulled out some food. There wasn't much left, a few pieces of ham and some vegetables. He didn't enjoy cooking and wouldn't even lie to himself or anyone about it when his fridge was often half empty. There were no visible traces of a cook living in that place.
The kitchen area was smoothly combined with the living room. Kai loved it as it allowed anyone to watch their favourite TV show from behind the counter.
After emptying the plate, he remained in his seat for a long while, staring at the screen. His thoughts were dispelled and hazy. He sighed loudly and moved from the kitchen to the wardrobe to pick up his jacket. After grabbing his bag and a wallet, he opened the door and left the apartment.
His place was well situated, surrounded by the complex of family apartments. There were parks with running paths and a crystal clear river which wasn't deep and made a great swimming spot in the summer. The marketplace was very close to the metro station, and the metro station was situated ten min from his building by walk. The grocery store that Kai loved for its placement, barely a few minutes walk.
It was a small neighbourhood shop. The green paint on the front wall peeled off. Inside in the air lingered the odd scent of mould. The paint on the walls was in beige colour that became more yellow due to the time passing. They looked old, with many scratches and spots in random places. The biggest plus of this store was that they didn't have many choices in the products. You could save time making your choices because there was none.
It wasn't a busy store. Mainly for people from the close area of his neighbourhood. He didn't know them well. Next to the sales assistant, he only knew a few faces. The assistant was a kind lady who always looked bored. She never attempted to make a conversation with him, but Kai noticed that she was friendly with other customers. He knew that she recognised him as well as he did her. Quickly, he grabbed all products needed, double-checked if anything was missing in his basket and finally headed to the counter.
Kai woke up when his ringing phone started going off early in the morning, which he forgot to put back on the side table. He vowed to himself to keep it far away from his ear before falling asleep again. Groaning and upset that someone tried to force him to engage in the conversation when he was still half asleep, Kai picked up the phone without checking the caller.
"Hello?" asked with a raspy voice.
"I can hear that you are, exceptionally, happy to hear from me. Did I wake you up?" The voice on the other side laughed.
Kai and Noah were childhood friends, and they have known each other since they were little. Kai wondered why Noah kept calling him since he had never called or texted him unless there was a good reason to do so.
"Yes, you did." He looked on the screen and frowned. "It's only eight in the morning. Any specific reason for you to call me this early?"
Kai couldn't understand how people could get up so early and be full of energy. And Noah was one of them. He never considered that Kai could be sleeping when he wasn't.
"I thought that we could go to the lakeside in the forest to chill a bit. What would you say?" He asked with enthusiasm in his voice.
"Is that the only reason you called me?" He questioned, and irritation grew in his chest.
"Is that not good enough?" Kai remained silent, and Noah asked again.
"Okay," he sighed. Kai wasn't in the mood at the moment for any outdoor activities. He avoided Noah for the last couple of weeks, and a wave of guilt shoved him all over, forcing Kai to agree.
"Great, I'll pick you up in two hours. Get ready, and don't think about calling me back with any shady excuse." Noah chuckled, and Kai rolling his eyes, cut the line.
After having a few more minutes of a peaceful nap, Kai got up from the bed and moved to the bathroom for his morning routine. Besides his pale complexion on the borderline between "healthy" and "in need of a hospital check-up," Kai wasn't bad looking man. Lean with toned muscles and average height. His chin was well defined, eyes soft but didn't look friendly. He seemed pretty intimidating, but at the same time, he was shy and anxious with strangers.
He wore a thick, black jumper to protect himself from the autumn chill and to complete his look denim jeans.
Noah pulled to the driveway sending a message to inform that he was waiting outside for him. Kai took his jacket and picked a bag with his drawing tools. Locked the door behind him and walked down the stairs to find Noah on the driveway of his apartment complex.
It was a beautiful and well-hidden place from the outside world. Mossy rocks. The green carpet of grass hugged multiple flowers around the crystal clear water that mirrored trees. Around the lake, densely growing trees shield the area from noticing it by people walking in the woods. It was successful as Kai never saw anyone coming there.
The path leading to the lake seemed to be trodden by animals. They once mistook it for a walking pathway which luckily brought them to that magic place.
Since then, they had kept it to themselves to protect it from others. It's simple, beautiful and quiet. Kai could lay there and contemplate for hours. It has this soothing touch on your soul, hard to find anywhere else.
"Let's sit here. I don't want to be in the sun." Noah motioned to the spot near the trees, where the grass wasn't that high.
"How are you doing? You did avoid me for some time now. " He continued after they sat on the blankets, making themselves comfortable.
"Sorry, I wasn't in the mood." Kai pulled out his sketchbook and started drawing the view, focusing on the bushes on the other side of the lake.
"I'm worried about you." Noah leaned more forward, trying to look at Kai's face to catch his attention.
"You don't have to be." He shrugged.
Noah got angry by Kai's indifference and raised his voice. "Really?! You are like a family to me. How long are you planning on staying like this? It's been over a year since you graduated and locked yourself in your flat. You barely go out, and now you avoid me because you are not in the mood. For real, Kai?" Noah stared straight into Kai's eyes, demanding an answer.
Kai looked back on the bushes and continued drawing.
"Oh well, so this is how it is? You won't avoid me, but ignore me instead?" Noah couldn't hide his disappointment and looked away.
"What do you want me to say?" Kai stopped drawing and fixed his gaze on Noah, giving him his full attention. Noah visibly calmed down, relaxing his posture.
"I want you to tell me what I can do to help you. You can't live like this. It's vegetation, and it's hurting me to see you like that." He looked forward, talking more to himself than to Kai anymore. "I can't even have a proper conversation with you anymore. You rarely answer my calls, sometimes you don't open the door for me when I come over. Can you please tell me how the hell I can help?" He paused and stared at Kai. He could notice the calmness in his posture, which only proved his hidden rage. "That's the only thing I want. Because being unable to do anything but to watch is the worst."
Noah put a trembling hand on his shoulder. At that moment, Kai understood that he wasn't the only one suffering, but he was also hurting the person he cared for the most.