Hand in Hand

Sometimes something's got to break to make a way for something new. Sometimes a window has to shatter in order to create the window of opportunity one needs. Sven shattered that window and discovered that opportunity. Finding his way into Ai's room, Sven discovers that Ai is forever chained to her bed. Starting with a 'hi' and a smile (the beginning of any kind of relationship really), two young hearts grow closer. And perhaps with a shrug and a smile, only Sven and Ai would know the end of their own story.

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1. Hand in Hand - A Shattered Window

Hand in Hand

I am Cupid.

And today I will tell you a story.

A story of how a boy and a girl met by chance. Or perhaps fate.

Or rather because of a baseball. A baseball that was hit way too far, but just far enough for the boy to find the girl.

Why not the other way around, you might ask. Why can’t the girl find the boy? I do not know.

It simply didn’t happen that way.

His name was Sven. And her name was Ai.

“Alright!” Sven shouted. “Let’s hit that home-run!”

Sven and his friends were playing baseball outside. The match was nearly at the end, although who won none of the players really knew. Both teams would keep track of the scores at the beginning of the match, but later on, they would just forget about it.

Of course, in the end, both teams claimed that they had won by a landslide.

It was 7pm. They time for one more hit before they had to go home.

What does it matter, both teams thought. We’ve won already anyway.

Sven hit the ball.

It was a home-run alright. It flew far. Very far. In fact, it flew into the closed window of a nearby house. Sven and his team were playing in the park, so there was no tall fence to catch a ball that flew so incredibly high, more because of luck rather than skill.

“Great, we won the game, but lost the ball” one of the players said.

“Not to mention a window...” another one added.

“You think they will make us pay for it?”  Sven asked, staring at the broken window with  some uncertainty.

Players from both teams looked at one another.

Nobody wanted to find out, for nobody had a reliable source of income.

Like a swarm of flies, the group of boys flew off to all different directions. Sven was running too. He ran until he was safely behind a tree. With so many boys running, he was sure that he wouldn’t be caught so easily. From behind the tree, he took a peek at the nearby house he hit.

He hit a window on the second floor.

As far as he could tell, there was no one in the house coming to see the broken window. Sven let out a sigh of relief, but had to suck it right back in.

A woman, probably in her mid-forties, opened the broken window and looked around outside. It seemed as if she let out a sigh, and then closed it again.

Huh...she looks a sort of sad, Sven thought with guilt creeping up his conscience. He’d expected the person to be at least a little angry and maybe shout a curse or two.

Maybe I should apologize...

He glanced at the bushes behind him and then back at the shattered glass.

He sighed.

Perhaps if the woman opened the window shouting and cursing at the scattered baseball players, Sven wouldn’t have gone back.

And so the wheels of fate began to turn.

---

Within minutes Sven reached the house. A little faster than he would have liked to.

What should I say, he wondered. First he would obviously apologize. Then what? Maybe tell a lie and say that one of his friends hit it?

  But why should I lie about that, Sven thought with a self-satisfied smile. Being able to hit it that far is pretty impressive, even though it was mostly luck.

Sven took a deep breath, swallowed and rang the door bell.

Moments later, the door opened.

Before Sven stood the same lady that he saw at the window.

“I’m the one who hit the ball through that window!” Sven instantly said and bowed. “I’m sorry.”

At first, the middle-aged lady simply stared at him, not sure of what to say. She didn’t expect any of the boys to remain on the field, let alone ring her doorbell in order to apologize.

She smiled. “Don’t worry about it,” she said with a light laugh. “I knew this would happen sooner or later anyway.”

Sven apologized again, hoping that she wouldn’t make him pay for the window. He wasn’t sure wether to interpret her smile and laugh as an evil one or good-natured one.

But alas, she invited him in. “I think my daughter Ai has the ball. It flew into her room after all. Come in, come in. She’ll probably want to give you the ball herself.”

A little stunned by cheerful she was, Sven followed her inside. He expected her to scold him at least a little bit.

Not that he would enjoy it, but that was how he expected things to go.

Behind Ai’s mother, Sven entered Ai’s room.

He thought about apologizing to Ai, but not a word came out of his mouth when he saw Ai. In fact, only his eyes grew wider. And for just a moment, he forgot to breathe.

Ai sat in her bed, but it was no ordinary bed. It was propped up like a chair, much like the beds you will find in hospitals. She wore yellow pajamas and had long flowing black hair. With both hands, she held the baseball. Behind her, Sven could clearly see the hole in the glass window the ball, or rather he, caused.

Sven walked up to her bed and bowed again. “I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused you.”

Both mother and daughter let out a chuckle.

“It’s no trouble!” Ai smiled. “That sudden crash was probably the most exciting thing that happened to me all week.”

Sven let out a somewhat awkward laugh. It was so rare to find people in such a good mood after one of their windows got smashed.

“I’ll pay you back for the window,” Sven offered. It was the proper thing to do, he thought. You never know, his father might be even happy to pay for the broken window, since he was even more of a baseball fan than Sven.

“Oh no, no no,” Ai’s mother waved him off. “There is really no need for that.”

Sven glanced at Ai to see if her mother was just trying to be polite. Since she was more or less his age, he hoped they could instantly build some sort of connection through eye contact, thus she could give him some sort of signal.

But Ai simply smiled.

Sven pressed further, but Ai’s mother just waved him off. She told me that there really was no need for him to pay them back, since he was still a student. Paying them back would probably cause him more trouble than he caused them, she argued.

Sven thought of something else.

“Then at least let me help you out somehow.”

“Hmm...” Ai thought. Ai’s mother thought for a moment too.

Ai looked thoughtfully at the baseball in her hands, then at Sven.

Her eyes widened.

“I know!”

Sven expectantly turned to her, curious at what this girl in the bed might have come up with.

“Let me keep the baseball!”

Eyes wide, Sven stared at her. He was expecting something completely different. Books, teddy bears, designer handbags or whatever else girls his age mat or may not like.

But ironically, the baseball did seem like the most appropriate compensation.

“Sure.” Sven half grinned, half laughed.

The three of them talked for a bit. Ai’s mother asked where Sven went to school, Sven said that he went to the high school three bus stops away. Sven told them about some of the funny things that happened when playing baseball with his friends. Throughout the conversation, he couldn’t help but notice that Ai was always in her bed. Never once did she move her legs by even a fraction.

Eventually, Ai’s mother walked out of the room to get some drinks.

Sven took this opportunity to ask Ai why she was in the bed the whole time.

Ai gave him a sad smile.

She pointed at the bed she was in.

“You see, I’m stuck in the bed, but I’m not exactly ill either,” she sighed. “When I was little, I was hit in the back by a car. I got injured but managed to recover, even the broken bones in my legs healed...except...”

Ai sighed profoundly before continuing.

“Except I’ll never be able to walk again. I’m paralyzed for the rest of my life”

Shocked, Sven simply stared at her. He didn’t know what to say. To be paralyzed from such a young age onwards...it must feel as if the while world has send her to damnation.

“I’m sorry...I shouldn’t have asked...”

“No, no it’s alright!” Ai hurriedly said, trying to sound cheerful.

There was an awkward silence. After all of that, Sven couldn’t think of any story that could sweep away the awkward air.

After another few moments of awkward silence, Ai opened her mouth.

“Actually...there is something I want to ask of you...”

“Yeah? Anything.”

Ai fiddled around with the baseball a nervously before asking. “Could you come over to my house a couple of times a week?”

Sven raised an eyebrow. “Huh?”

“No, no, no! I didn’t mean it that way!” Ai quickly said, blushing. “I mean, my mother has been working hard to take care of me ever since I came out of the hospital years ago. If you could help out around the house, you know, maybe two or three times week, I’d be really grateful.”

“Not to mention it would make up for the broken window.” Ai added with a mischievous smile.

Sven let out a breath and chuckled.

“Leave it to me.”

A few minutes later, Ai’s mother returned with tea and orange juice.

For another half an hour or so, the three of them talked about anything that came to their minds. But as time wills it, Sven had to leave.

Apologizing again for the window, Sven stepped out of the room. Ai’s mother accompanied him to the door.

After Sven put on his shoes, Ai mother asked him for a favor. She wanted him to drop by one or two times week.

“Ai doesn’t have any friends,” she explained with some sadness in her eyes. “Because of her condition, she can’t go to school, so doesn’t have anyone her age to talk to. It would be really awkward for me to bring in some girls from the local schools to talk to her...so...

“So do you think you could just come visit Ai whenever you have time and talk to her? I’ve never seen her get along with anyone her age so well. And I think it would be good for her to talk be able to talk to someone who is not her mother.”

Ai’s mother let out a light laugh.

“Of course I’ll come.” Sven agreed. “It’s the least I can do.”

And with that, Sven left.

From the broken window, Ai watched Sven walk through the baseball field, until he disappeared behind a tree.

She still held the baseball in her hands.

She smiled.

She had found a friend.

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