Fiyarel was born from his father's tears.
Now he felt like crying at the sight of his father, who was on a hard, blue-sheeted hospital bed in a white tunic and a cloth tied around his lower body. His son's hand was clutched in both his baggy palms, an IV tube attached to one of them. There were creases under his eyes but they were soft with love, his dry lips were curved into a smile, his cheeks pushed in with the effort and his head was bald.
"Fiyarel, son, have you had lunch? Slept well last night?" His weak voice had care embedded in it.
"Yes dad." Fiyarel's dark grey eyes glistened at his father's gaze that made the drab, grey-walled room look brighter. He attempted a smile, but his lips shook. His sharp nose and defined cheekbones usually hardened his face but, at the verge of tears, his pointy eyebrows were slanted downward and his facial features were loose and gentle.
"Oh Fiyarel, my beautiful son," he ran his palm over Fiyarel's ashy blonde hair and ruffled his side parting, "Don't be ashamed of your birth, no matter how the world judges you. Tears are blessings. You are a blessing." His voice cracked.
"I know, dad. I know."
"Everyone keeps telling you my health declined because of you. It's not you, son, I lost a fragment of my soul...a fragment of my soul," He repeated.
Fiyarel swallowed the mountain in his throat. "Dad, I don't care about the world. I want you here forever, with me."
"I'll always be here, son," he dropped Fiyarel's hand and pointed to his chest under his black sweater, "in your heart, always."
"What?" Fiyarel's eyes went wide, "Wait, what do you-"
"Good afternoon," A female dulcet voice boomed from the threshold. Fiyarel turned to the girl.
"Rumia," His heart was uncontrollable.
Rumia was his best and only friend. She had dark emerald eyes that the dull hospital lights couldn't justify, a stout nose and naturally pink lips. You wouldn't immediately notice any beauty in her face before she smiled. Her smile was so unbearably pretty that it made Fiyarel's heart jump skyward even in the darkness of the moment.
Her long, waterfall-like hair had a brilliant blue hue running down to transition to neon green at the tips and it only complimented her smile. She wore a full-sleeved black jacket over an ink blue shirt and black pants with a tiny golden ring hanging from each side of the hip, barely noticed.
He found himself appreciating everything about her all over again.
Fiyarel turned back to his father, "What do you mean?"
"Nothing, son," he was looking at her, smiling with welcome, "just remember that nothing lasts forever."
Fiyarel mulled over the words while Rumia entered and enquired with his father, then proceeded to cheer up the twosome with stories and jokes. Eventually, they slipped from his mind and he found himself touched at Rumia's gesture to lighten the mood.
"So Rel," she turned to him after a while, "Helé's gift shop opened up today. Whaddya say we check it out?"
"Right, leaving my dad here sounds just peachy," His icy voice made the sarcasm sound almost real.
Thankfully Rumia always caught up. "C'mon, I know you wanna spend time with Rumia The Great," She closed her eyes and flipped her hair in mock-greatness. She turned to his father after. "Right, Mr. Bolt?"
His father's laugh tinkled across the room. "Fiyarel would never turn down a chance to spend time with you..Isn't it, son?"
Fiyarel turned his neck and shot a pleading look at his father, hidden from Rumia's gaze. "Yes dad."
His father dropped his voice, "You have to tell her, you know."
"I will. When the time is right," he whispered back.
Rumia dragged Fiyarel out of the hospital after, through the streets of Merci that was wrought with a chilly breeze, a cruel winter beginning to set in. Ifuru, the country they lived in, had towns and cities that were quickly catching up with the rest of the world, modernizing with skyscrapers and the best that technology can offer, blended with the most powerful magic.
But Merci was the same homely city that it was before. Monuments, landmarks and ruins were peppered in its districts, tiny, congested shops selling antique objects with traditional food served in the same way as always: on a purple-rimmed wooden plate.
While they walked through the cold streets, they engaged in conversation.
"So, where is this Rumia The Great?" He swivelled his head around.
"Uh, here-" she waved her hands in front of him- "see?"
"No. You're Peekaroo."
"Oh lord, I've told you a million times not to call me that," she shook her head, "it's so not cute."
"Oh but it is, accept it, my Peekaroo."
"Stop it," She looked away while Fiyarel laughed.
At the quaint gift shop that had shelves and shelves of trinkets and gifts, Fiyarel watched Rumia marvelling at the objects. Her eyes and smile widened, voice squeaked and squealed as she held them. He felt utmost gratitude at having her by his side.
He thought back to all the times he went to similar gift shops with her, owing to her strange obsession with feasting her eyes on the pretty sparkly things. And his hobby was watching her with profound love and fulfillment. As always, she was unbothered by the glares thrown their way by the other customers, noses scrunched up in disgust.
He thought back to one time when a shopper had approached her.
"Sweetie, you are very pretty and seem like a decent girl, so why are you being dragged by this...this cursed one?" She whispered the last words, as her straightened brown hair fell into her eyes when she leaned and covered her mouth behind a hand.
"Who're you calling cursed?" She had shouted at first.
"Rumia, it's okay, I'll just leave-"
"-No. No, this is my best friend who is as human as you and me and has every right to be treated the same way."
"But haven't you heard? He's born from tears! His father fell sick shortly after giving birth to him. He's a curse, I tell you! A curse-"
"-Spin your tales somewhere else. It is my choice to hang out with him and your turn to stop judging," her eyes were half closed by the upward slant of her eyebrows.
"-you can say something if it's better than the silence."
She had zipped her mouth shut.
Since then, Fiyarel's self esteem and confidence had increase. His awe for her was tenfold and like her, he was unbothered by the dirty looks and deprecating talk. In fact, he was much happier with life and himself because of her. She didn't realize it but more than anything, seeing her smile made him smile back as well.
After a fruitful time at the shop, they had stopped at a park at exactly sunset time, sitting on a bench towards the sun to watch it going down, when she took a deep breath.
"Fiyarel," her eyes were locked with the ground, "I need to tell you something."
He cocked his head. "What?"
"Your dad asked me to tell you...he doesn't have much time left."
He began to take shallow breaths loudly and repetitively, eyes squeezed shut. "No. No," he said it over and over again. "He can't."
He opened his eyes. "It isn't true," his facial muscles were tense and veins popped in his throat as he stood up.
"-I don't believe it," he murmured before yelling, "I won't believe it!" Despite this show of strength, his eyes watered. The shadow of the play-slides fell on him.
"Rel," She grasped his hand to halt him. "Listen to me, listen."
He tried to pull away, tears dropping one by one as he turned away from her to hide it. "Let me go."
"Don't be afraid of looking weak. Crying is not weak, it's not wrong. Don't try to resist it."
He pulled harder, attempting to shake her hand away, her voice away.
"You don't have to act strong. Being born from tears doesn't define who you are, it doesn't make you a person who has to prove they're strong." Her voice softened.
"Besides, aren't tears what make you value happiness? Isn't darkness what makes you appreciate the light?" She stood up next to him.
"It's okay, Fiyarel. I'm always here for you."
He wrapped his arms tight around her, crying into her chest for everything he'll lose.