An eerie feeling overcame me as I didn’t see anything but darkness when I opened my eyes. The sudden overwhelming feeling of loneliness overcame me, despite a little bit of fear that vanished as soon as my blurry sight made me realize I was able to see again.
I looked behind me to see a big tunnel’s end from which I had supposedly emerged from, the dim light of a cold day sunset made the atmosphere feel like it was an old memory rather than a vivid depiction of reality. Until far, far away barely recognizable I saw a tall man who walked slowly, with firm steps on a sand path among the almost crimson dyed meadows.
The path seemed infinite, as if it started from the tunnel and went into an endless up and downs of small hills, there were signs that seemed unreadable but logical at the same time, spiralling into several directions, some were standing normal other were like turned and twisted like springs.
With slow steps I wanted to satisfy my curiosity that stemmed from this surreal and odd place, unlike the last times I was the one approaching the person but as soon as I started walking I heard all kinds of voices mumbling.
I didn’t quite understand the content, it was a mix of different things and very far away to distinguish what they were saying. As soon as I quickened my steps towards the back of the man the voices grew more distinctive, as the words they muttered grew clearer.
The white blazer and violet plaid pants were visible now, he was still far away but at least I could see his features now.
“He really is a giant isn’t he?”, the voice seemed so close almost like it muttered in my ear..
“He is the ace for real?”, another voice in my right ear.
“Arrogant bastard, walks like he owns the world”, the voices were always different, no one compared to the other but I wondered what they meant.
“No emotions at all.”
“Does he even realize that nobody likes him?”
“Shiratorizawa was it?”
The closer I came to the olive haired man with slightly tanned skin, the closer I drew to his back the louder and faster the voices spoke. My eyes lost focus for a second and I grew dizzy from all the negativity and mingling of them.
“Ahh, in the end he will just be another vain volleyball player.”
“Does he even have friends?”
“Why is he so serious?”
“He kind of is scary.”
“I wonder if he is able to smile.”
“Ushijima, wasn’t he Japan’s representative or something?”
“Who cares if he doesn’t have character at all.”
“Wasn’t he the son of-”
“Stop!”, I screamed and held my head for a short while before the man turned to me staring at me with his olive eyes, before he ceased his walk.
My heart pounded louder and louder, the suffocating feeling that those voices gave me overwhelmed me, not being able to grasp any thought of my own.
“Stop?”, he inquired and now his whole body faced towards me, the setting sun illuminating him from behind.
“The voices, don’t you hear them?”, they kept talking and talking, the worst was they kept becoming even more negative as they spoke about his childhood.
He probably wouldn’t have heard them, nobody would walk like that if he had heard those voices.
He didn’t change his expression and simply nodded, “I do hear them, why do you ask if you clearly hear them too?”
The way he just brushed them off and stood there as if nothing happened unsettled me.
“Don’t they bother you? I mean they clearly were talking about you. And they got worse and worse”, every human does feel something when things like that happen, he must too.
“I am pretty much used to them, so I just ignore them”, my eyes widened in surprise and the voices stopped bothering me all of a sudden.
“Huh? Ignore them? How would you-”, he cut me off and leaned down to face me properly since he was much taller than me.
“If it’s nothing useful I just don’t pay attention to it. Like that useless blabber from before I wouldn’t pay attention to those voices whose opinion is based off speculations with no firm ground”, he was only observing my reaction while crossing his arms as he explained but something bothered me.
“There was nothing bothering you at all, not a single tiny bit? Aren’t you angry sad or hurt?”, he closed his eyes for a second as if he seriously had to think over it and then opened them shaking his head.
“Then you must be pretty strong, huh”, it slipped out of me with a slight sad undertone as I had to slightly smile, a mix of relief and frustration.
“Only the strong can prevail”, the sudden rise in his voice as he uttered those words made me look back up at the confident yet still little expression in his face.
“Well I guess if you watch nature it’s pretty much obvious, but aren’t there strong people because weak people exist in the first place?”, he didn’t move a bit but a frown formed on his face.
I knew there cannot be a human who is not capable of emotions, he seems to have his own buttons to press.
Not that I really wanted to press them, it seems there are things which shouldn’t be approached if not aware of the consequences.
“Only someone weak could say such a thing. You are obviously someone who lived her life in a carefree manner, not even being aware of the fact that you are weak and the weak cannot prevail”, his eyes followed my gaze which I averted and threw back at him.
While I might be a bit carefree compared to him and…
It’s not that I really thought about being weak or strong either, but saying it like that is sure…
A sudden realization hit me.
The weak cannot prevail…
I stared at him firmly, fixing him.
“Is that why my dreams have time limits or that all of you disappear when I touch you? Because I am weak?”, when I said it out loud it sounded more insulting than I thought it would be, it made me a bit angry but if that’s a fact then…
I had to work much harder to become stronger, if it’s about being weak.
“But you were touching me the whole time ever since you reached me, I still didn’t disappear if that’s what you are implying”, he straightened again and I moved along finally noticing that I had grabbed his sleeve the whole time from the point where the voices made me dizzy.
Him aggregating and confusing me made me not realize that I touched him.
So touching him is not the real problem?
“That can’t be, usually they disappear, why didn’t you?”, I muttered rather to myself staring at my hands.
“It seems you are still a seedling”, I gave him a confused stare.
“Someone who lacks the fundamental basics is like a seedling that nourishes itself from low mineral earth, weak and unable to flourish properly, slowly developing almost as if its growth is obstructed”, he spread out his arms as he explained to me that I am a weak seedling growing on the wrong earth.
“You are basically saying I am unneeded weed?”, I put my hands on my hips as I tried to turn down the anger inside of me and properly listen to him since he seemed to know more than I did.
“No, weed is not a seedling. But if you ask me now-”
“Nevermind just explain the other stuff again”, I cut him off before making him change his opinion about me.
“You do not seem to understand the basics, the fundamental knowledge. Despite the many things you have seen and lived through, the fact that you are working on the wrong footing was unaware to you until now. As a seedling you still have room for improvement and grow, but you cannot become strong unless you choose the right earth”, he suddenly seemed more soft and a grin was on his face as I understood his explanation.
“I think I understand, despite the fact you offended me…”, a slight annoyance was visible in my voice but it was already gone when I watched his body turning into pieces of dandelions, slowly being carried away by the breeze as the sun finished setting.
Ah, he is gone already…
His strong presence was no more but I wondered what Ushijima wanted from me when he explained it to me.
I guess he basically told me to work harder if I wanted to become someone strong and develop properly.
Those so-called fundamentals , I needed to know more to even develop.
This is my low mineral earth, I need to change it.
“Still no need to say it that way, I guess that’s how he is…”
“Offend? I simply stated what I saw, I never intended to offend you in any way. But let me see that change of mind of yours.”