Sunny remembers when he would watch Mari play the piano as he sat beside her, her fingers dancing across the black and white keys. Sometimes, he had wondered how her hands gracefully played the piano without making a single mistake.
He’d stared down at his hands in frustration. His fingers hurt from practicing his violin. Sometimes, they had hurt to the point where he just couldn’t play properly anymore.
Of course, he would never tell Mari about it. Everything had to be perfect. He couldn’t ruin this for her, she had been working so hard for the recital.
So he had continued to play, anyway. He’d make it around the pain somehow. He’d push through, he knew he would.
That was until his fingers began bleeding one day while he was practicing.
“Sunny!” Basil’s distressed voice has called out to him just as he was in the middle of the piece he had been practicing. He and Basil had been practicing at his and Mari’s house downstairs while Mari continued her studies upstairs. He had reluctantly stopped, turning to give his best friend a slightly irritated expression. “Your fingers are bleeding…”
He hadn’t even registered the pain at first, but when he had looked down to see his fingers, it all hit him. Hard.
He could feel tears threatening to spill from the corners of his eyes, and he had put the violin down along with the bow.
It wasn’t only his fingers that were hurting. He could feel the strain in his wrists and in his neck. No, no, no, he couldn’t let this get in the way of his practicing. He could rest later when he finally perfects his part of the performance. Once he finishes, he wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. He would be able to stop.
But he hadn’t perfected his part yet. He knew he was still off timing in some parts, that sometimes he played a note to high or low. He couldn’t stop now. He couldn’t let himself.
With shaky hands, he reached out to pick up his violin again. He’d make it through the pain, he had to.
A hand gently seized his wrist before he could pick it up again. Their grip was firm, but not enough to make his hand hurt.
He looked up at the blond, whose blue eyes were gleaming with concern.
“Sunny, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Basil told him worriedly. “We need to bandage your fingers. We should tell Mari that you can’t practice right now…”
Sunny shook his head. He couldn’t let Mari down. He knew that this performance meant a lot to her.
Basil gazed at him for a moment, as if looking for something. Sunny didn’t know exactly what it was that he was searching for. Did he find it? Basil let go of his wrist.
“C—Can we just… Let’s at least bandage up your fingers, okay?” Basil’s expression was gentle, but his voice was firm. “We don’t have to tell her, but… You shouldn’t ignore this, Sunny.”
Sunny gave his best friend a guilty look, hesitantly lifting up his hands in front of him for the blond to inspect them. Hands gingerly brushed against his fingers as Basil grimaced at the cuts in his fingers.
The blond took his uninjured hand and together they went to the bathroom to clean up the cuts.
Basil didn’t let Sunny practice for the rest of the day.
They were having a picnic today. It was the six of them as usual. Mari, Hero, Aubrey, Kel, Basil, and Sunny. It had been one of the rare days that Mari was free.
Today, she decided to take a break from her studies. Or rather, the other five convinced her to have a picnic with them. After all, it had been a while since their last picnic all together.
As usual, Aubrey and Kel were bickering while Hero tried to calm them down, Mari teasing him every now and then. Basil was busy reading one of his mystery novels, pausing every now and then to tell Sunny about where he thinks the plot might go. Sunny was sitting next to his older sister, watching as Aubrey and Kel continued their arguing.
“I am not going to grow a watermelon just because I accidentally swallowed a watermelon seed!” Aubrey told the other boy, puffing her cheeks in frustration.
“Yes, you will!” Kel insisted. Sunny couldn’t tell if he was just teasing her or if he actually believed it. Knowing Kel, it was probably the latter. “Maybe it’ll explode, too!”
Aubrey glared at him, crossing her arms.
Kel gasped. “Maybe you’ll even turn into a watermelon!”
“Oh gosh,” Basil began, joining in on their conversation. He had closed his book and placed it beside him. “I don’t think I’d ever want to turn into a watermelon!”
“Nobody’s going to turn into a watermelon,” Hero tried to assure them, a small smile on his face, though the rest of them probably didn’t believe what he said.. “And watermelon seeds won’t grow if you swallow them, so no need to worry.”
“Told you!” Aubrey cheered triumphantly, a proud smile on her face.
And with that, the two began to bicker again.
Hero sighed and Mari began laughing beside them.
“At least you tried. I think that’s what counts.” She told the other with a wink. Hero, as expected, blushed at her remark.
Sunny turned away from them and looked back at Basil, who had begun making a flower crown. He remembered that it was Mari that had taught him how to link the stems together. Basil had caught on quickly while the rest of them struggled for a while. Aubrey had eventually gotten the hang of it, though. Sunny had given up. He just didn’t have the skill to do it.
He watched as the blond’s hands tied the flowers together. It looked so natural and as if he didn’t need to use a lot of effort. Sometimes, Sunny wished that he had his skill. Maybe it would help him with his violin practicing somehow.
Basil seemed to notice Sunny watching him and flushed slightly. “U—Um, do you want to make one too?”
Sunny looked at him for a moment before nodding. He’d try again.
There was a loud crash when the violin had hit the bottom of the stairs. Sunny couldn’t take it anymore. He just couldn’t.
He had failed Mari. He couldn’t play anymore. He was tired. So, so tired.
“Sunny?” A voice called from inside their room worriedly. Mari emerged from the doorway, and quickly rushed to his side. “Are you okay? I heard a loud bang.”
Sunny didn’t answer her, finally realizing his actions. Oh no. Oh no, no, no. He continued to stair at the crumpled violin. Mari followed his gaze and gasped at the sight.
“Did you throw it down the stairs?” She questioned him, her voice quivering in slight anger. Sunny didn’t answer her. “Sunny, why did you do it?”
He couldn’t tell her.
“Sunny, the recital is today!”
He had failed her.
“We all worked so hard to get that for you, too…”
He had failed his friends.
“Why aren’t you answering me, Sunny?!”
He had ruined her special day.
Mari was looking at him in anger. There were tears in her eyes too.
Then, he started screaming. Screaming at her that he was tired. Screaming at her that he couldn’t take it anymore. Screaming at her that he didn’t want to do this.
She was screaming at him too.
There was so much screaming.
Then, his hands finally did something significant. His hands finally did something. Finally.
He pushed her. Sunny had pushed her.
Everything seemed to slow down, but he still couldn’t catch her in time. Her hand reached out to him. Her soft, graceful piano hands. The hands that he enjoyed holding on walks to the park. The hands that would wrap around him when she hugged him. He couldn’t grab it in time.
And down she went, to the bottom of the stairs.
There was a scream again. His scream. Then there was another scream at the bottom of the stairs. It wasn’t Mari.
He ran down stairs to rush to Mari’s side. Basil was there. The blond was standing there, petrified.
“Mari, wake up…”
She didn’t move.
“Mari, please. I’m sorry!”
She didn’t breathe.
She didn’t wake up.
Wake up, wake up, wakeup, wakeupwakeupwakeupWAKEUPWAKEUP.
Soft, gentle hands tied the noose that would wrap around Mari’s neck.
Sunny wondered how hands could be so talented. So horribly talented.
He stared down at his own hands as Mari’s body was pulled up higher and higher.
Hands were horrible.
A hand took his, but it was okay right? Because it was the same hand that held his. It was the same hand that bandaged his cut fingers. It was the same hand that tied the stems for the wonderful flower crowns they made during their picnics. He grimaced. It was the same hand that tied his sister’s noose. Even so, these hands were better than his.
He looked into Basil’s eyes. He was crying.
“Everything is going to be okay.”