Hello, my name is Michiko. I considered myself the luckiest geisha in the world when I got with Joseph. Today we were going to the orphanage to adopt a child. After looking at all the pictures we decided Eli Clark seemed like a good choice. On the way there, I asked Joseph a question I almost immediately regretted asking. “Hey, Joseph? Why do you always wear that bracelet... charm... thingy?” His face saddened when hearing the question, but answered anyway. “This bracelet was the last thing I got from him… my brother Claude. The bracelet gives me the ability to let other people travel into the camera world. It also makes the travel there less painful or confusing. My first time using it I threw up,” he said, laughing a bit. I giggled, remembering how angry Leo was being forced to clean it. We walked in mostly silence for a bit before I smiled, exclaiming, “Look! We’re here!”
At the orphanage, we recognized Eli as soon as he approached us. He gave us a big smile, saying, “Hi hi!” I crushed him in a big hug as he introduced me to his cute tiny owl named Brooke Rose. By the time Joseph finished filling out the paperwork, we already bonded. On the way home in the car, Joseph asked, “So, do you want to try mommy’s cooking for dinner?” “Yeah! Yeah!” Eli exclaimed, bouncing on his seat. He was so darn cute, I didn’t even mind when some kids outside yelled too loudly. Once home, I put on my apron and cooked some delicious fried rice while Brooke sat on my shoulder. I stealthily fed her some rice while behind me Eli sat on Joseph’s lap in the living room, reading a picture book.
“Dinner’s ready!~” I shouted, helping them put away the toys they were playing with. Brooke stood on top of a nearby shelf and watched us eat. Being already full, I assumed she was taking a nap. I made a mental note to myself to buy bird perches when Eli started trying the fried rice.
“Wow! It’s so yummy!~” he exclaimed, eating faster. Joseph chuckled, saying, “Don't eat too fast, otherwise you might choke.” “But if I choke on this, that means I’ll taste the yummy food forever, right?” he said, making me giggle. With Eli in the house, everything was so much more lively and fun. Brooke was surprisingly well trained and obedient, never leaving behind messes in the house. I was happy. But life must hate me, because the happiness didn’t last long.
We had Eli for about half a year when the worst thing possible happened. When I was choosing between cooking dinner or buying Eli’s favorite from Yoshinoya, I remembered how the Followers of Yidhra had mentioned they were trying to make money, so I decided to call Yidhra’s house and tell her that I had a job available for them. Joseph drove us to Yoshinoya as I watched Eli waving goodbye, a big smile on his face as the Follower led him back inside. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I wouldn’t see that Follower again. In fact, I wouldn’t see Eli smile like that again for a long time.
When I came back into the car, I put the take-out in the backseat and sat in the car. Joseph held my hand, smiling. I smiled back, leaning back and watching the few stars in the sky. Suddenly, Joseph’s phone rang. He had it on speaker, so I heard the dreaded news when he picked up. The first sign that something was wrong was that the Follower was calling us. They took “use the phone during emergencies” a bit too seriously. The second sign was the sound of fire crackling in the background. Why does it sound like something is burning?
“Joseph! You better be coming back soon! The stove was left on and the fire spread to- ack! Fzzt! -help!- Fzzt! Click!” We were left in frozen shock while the news settled in. Joseph slammed his foot down, the tires of the car screeching at every turn. We never stopped, running red lights, ignoring angry drivers. I called the police, who told me they would come with the firefighters as quickly as possible. Soon, we reached the house.
The first thing that hit me was the heat. The hot, burning fire on my front with the chilly night air on my back made for a weird combination. The loud roar of the fire filled my ears as I stared in shock, paralyzed. Seeing a shadow move in Eli’s room brought me back to reality. Joseph must’ve seen it too, and shouted, “Stay here!” then ran into the house. “Joseph!” I ran after him into the burning house.
The intensity of the heat was blinding me, the flames curling up the edges of my kimono. I pushed forward, trying to make my way to the stairs. The heat battling me eventually won, forcing me to run back out, patting the embers out of my dress, the cool air soothing the pain away. I quickly turned when I heard the sound of glass shattering, watching as a burning chair tumbled out of Eli’s bedroom window.
“ELI! JOSEPH!!” I shouted, relieved when they responded by throwing something out the window. Soon, Eli came flying out, Brooke flapping her wings and gripping his hood in an attempt to rescue him. I ran over to Eli, crying tears of relief when he seemed ok and only passed out. I brushed the bits of glass out of his hair and ripped off a piece of my sash to tie around Brooke’s wing.
“JOSEPH!” I shouted. “Get out of there!!” His coughing face appeared in the window, shouting, “I can’t fit! The window is too small!!” Suddenly, there was a huge explosion that made everyone fly back. “JOSEPH!!!” I cried hopelessly. I heard Violetta’s spider legs tapping the floor quickly in her attempt to run here. “I’ll help you go look for him!” she shouted over the noise of the water being blasted out of the hoses the firefighters were using. She sent an army of spiders to search, their little voices going “RAAAAAAH!” as they ran through some of the last few bits of fire, half the army disintegrating (rip).
Soon, a spider named Bob #72 shouted in his tiny voice, “Look! We found something!” I ran over, crushing under my feet the bits of wood and items that once belonged to a bright and lively home. What I found made my heart drop, tears spilling. They had found, under a pile of wood, a scorched blue coat sleeve attached to a pale hand.
I sobbed as Emily and a few others put him on a stretcher, bringing him to the ambulance truck. I stopped crying and listened, hearing something. “Wait! Stop!” I shouted, running to them. “I’m here, I’m here,” I sobbed as Joseph held my hand with the little energy he had left. “Take… this…” he said, trembling with the effort of lifting something from his pocket. I received my last two gifts from him that day; his precious bracelet and the teleportation card. “Take… care… of Eli…” he whispered, smiling. “Don't… cry… I’m… always… here… I… love… you…” he spoke his last words, his hand slipping from mine. I cried so much, I don't know where all the tears came from. I noticed black rigid lines forming in his hair, like how he turns black and white in a match. I took it as a sign of his death, crying harder. “I’m sorry Michiko,” Emily said, shaking her head sadly. Joseph Desaulnier was dead.
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