Silent Gifts

by Patrick Starks

If I were to tell you that fallen angels really did exist you would probably think I was crazy, but I’d be lying to say that it wasn’t true. Well, at least not all of it anyways.
  It was a typical day like every other day. Cars honked on the road profusely, while traffic grew outrageously in seconds. I think the buses had about an hour delay that day. And due to the pacing of the day I’d already missed one of my classes, which sucked seeing how I had big test that my teacher announced weeks ago. Although, I’d barely studied for it. So, I guess it didn’t matter. But still, I wanted to try. Getting even  one percent on the test would’ve been better than getting a complete zero.

 My next class was chemistry. I know right, ugh. I hated Chemistry, but the only thing that made it worthwhile was this girl named Marissa Tabile. She was by far the prettiest girl in class. And no, I’d never talked to her, but for whatever reason I was feeling a little courageous that day. Maybe it was all the built up tension from having to deal with the heavy traffic and missing my test. Who knows… But whatever it was I felt as cool as a cat.
For the first time ever there was an empty seat next to Marissa. I’d rushed over to sit by her side, and by my surprise I’d gotten a smile from her.
“I can see you’re a fan of pop tarts,” she chuckled.
Marissa then pointed to my feet where a pop tart wrapper was stuck .  I’d eaten one before I left home that morning. It was embarrassing, yet surprising how it even managed to stay stuck to my feet for so long without me noticing it, let alone, anyone saying anything about it.
Quickly, I’d pulled the wrapper off, and Marissa would only laugh more. The voice in my head was already saying, “Its over kid, on to the next one,” yet for some reason I felt this comfort around Marissa to stay.
“Don’t worry, I’ve done that myself a few times. You know you should try the cinnamon pop tarts. I promise you won’t be disappointed,” said Marissa, pulling out a pack of just that—cinnamon pop tarts.
“Here, I’ll split it with you. Kind of like how people split a Twix bar, but I’m sure you will agree with me that a pop tart is arguably way better.”
I still couldn’t believe she was talking to me, let alone, offering me a snack. I was hesitant to take it. But I also didn’t want to be rude. After all, I was the one who sat next to her.
“So what do you think?”
“It’s good,” I said, reminiscing off of the tasty flavors marinating in my mouth.
Marissa face had gone from curious to disappointed.  I’d slow down my chewing. Did I say something wrong?
“Just good? Are you kidding me… It’s more than just good, it’s grrrrrrrrrreat,” said Marissa with a Tony the Tiger voice. Apparently she was a fan of Frosted Flakes as well.
“Maybe you just need it toasted,” she added. “Are you one of those toasted guys?”
For the moment I grinned. Marissa was pretty funny, which wasn’t really expected. But it was I nice addition to her. Most girls like her were pretty cocky and rude, as if every guy in the world wanted to get in their pants. And the sad part was that they were only interested in the bad boys, which ironically were the ones trying to get in their pants in the first place.
 But here it was a nerdy guy like myself with coke bottled glasses, pink headphones and a Dragon Ball Z shirt standing in front of the same kind of beauty as in high school, yet such an honest and welcoming heart. At the end, it only made me want to know more about her.
Not long after, our teacher Mr. Kramer would walk into the classroom.
“Alright everyone, today’s going to be a very big day. As you all know today is the day for presentations. I hope you all brought something interesting to show and tell,” said Mr. Kramer, staring me down.
It was as if he already knew I didn’t work on anything. But it’s my own fault. I guess that’s what a day of late night gaming will do to you.
“So,  I’m guessing by the way Kramer is staring you down. You didn’t do your project, did you?” Asked Marissa\.
My silence was enough to tell her that I didn’t.
Marissa then leaned over to me and whispered.
“I didn’t finish mine either. I never have been much of chemistry girl. I should have been in art school or something like that, but you know, my dad wanted me to have a nice stable job, one that pays well. One that could pay the headache of bills. One where I could start a family eventually. I can still hear my dad now. ”_You don’t want to be a starving artist do you Marissa?”. I mean, my dad is somewhat right, but in all honesty I don’t want to be a slave to a job I don’t like either. Like, who wants to work towards someone else’s dreams for years when you could be working towards your own.  Isn’t that what life is all about? Ugh… never mind I’m ranting on again.” _
It had seemed that me and Marissa weren’t as different as I thought. In fact, we were exactly the same. Somewhat walking the same path of life; two kids just trying to find out who and what we wanted to be, and not what the world wanted us to be.
“Like music to my ears,” I said.
Marissa blushed and brushed her hair behind her ear slowly as she avoided eye contact with me. Was she nervous? No, I’m just some nerdy guy. There’s no way she could get nervous around a guy like me.
“Say, do you want to get out of here? I mean, me and you both know this isn’t our cup of tea or should I say our plate of pop tarts,” she joked.
“Uhmm do we have volunteers,” shouted Mr. Kramer from across the room.
Marissa looked at me clueless on what to say. I had to think quick.
“Umm… you know what I left it in the car?” I saiid.
“Left it in the car?Forgive me if I’m coming off a bit rude, but Mr. Carter. Didn’t I see you come in on the bus this morning,” asked Mr. Kramer.  
“Nope, must’ve been someone else.”
Mr. Kramer then wielded a look of suspicion. He wanted to call me out. The repetitive tapping of his foot said so, but thankfully, Mr. Kramer wasn’t in the mood for any games.
“Alright then. Go ahead, but hurry back Mr. Carter. We’ve already waisted fifteen minutes of class. Miss Tabile, you are up next.”
“No!” I shouted. “I mean, she can’t.”
Mr. Kramer rolled his eyes and sighed, while his foot tapped continuously on the floor again.
“And why is that Mr. Carter?”
“Well, her project is also in my car. We drove here together. It’s easier that way. You know, for carpooling and stuff.”
“There’s no need to lecture me Mr Carter I am very aware of what a carpool is.  You know what, I’m not even going to begin to ask how or why Miss Tabile took a ride in with you when she lives on the opposite side of the city. I don’t know what game you two are playing today, but there will be know extensions. I want something presented today from the both of you, rather that be during class or after. Either way, I will see a presentation from you both.”
  Marissa and I nodded, and then headed out of the class, straight to the nearest comic bookstore. Little did Mr. Kramer know that the only thing that he would be getting after that would be a note from registration that me and Marissa had dropped out of the class, which was what most professors got in colleges. Especially, from freshmen like ourselves.

Nevertheless, me and Marissa were at the comic bookstore drooling over comics like kids at toy store.
 “So you’re into the anime Bleach huh? Interesting…” said Marissa, curiously.  What do you like so much about it? No offense, but everyone I know says that it gets pretty boring after a while. You know, how Naruto had too many fillers. Or even how Dragon ball Z would stretch a fight scene out for nearly ten episodes.”
“Well, I mean, I definitely can’t disagree with what you just said about Dragon Ball Z,” I laughed. “I don’t know about those people you were talking to, but if those people ever took a chance to watch the show all the way through they could see that they could learn something about it. But sense your asking and you offered me a popotart earlier, I guess I like Bleach because it makes me feel like I’m something more. Like I have a Bankai,” I said. Marissa’s eyes opened wide with excited interest.
“Oooh what’s a Bankai?” She asked.
“Oh right, I guess I should explain that more to you huh?”
“Duh, I don’t watch the show silly goose.”
Me and Marissa then sat by a near by table in the store and I’d explained.
 “I’m no expert in Japanese, but Bankai means Transformation.  Whenever in the show someone does this their true spirit within shows, their true power and form. And well…”
I’d paused on saying anything else. You could say I was afraid that my nerdiness, would scare her away. The things that I was into just wasn’t classified as cool to most, but more so weird.
“It’s okay, you can tell me. I won’t laugh or make fun of you. It all sounds pretty cool to me. I didn’t know that an anime could be so deep.”
“Yeah, that’s the thing most people don’t realize about anime’s. You can really learn something from them and and apply them to your actual life.”
Marissa smiled. “Okay then so what else do I need to know about the Bankai? That can’t be all that you’ve told me about it. You can’t just stop mid sentence jerk,” said Marissa, punching me in the shoulder.
“Okay, okay, relax. I’m going to tell you.”
Marissa stopped punching my shoulder and waited for the rest of my story.
“So, the meaning behind Bankai for me has become a way of life. I know it sounds silly, but I honestly feel that we as human beings can achieve this. Sure, we aren’t soul reapers like on the actual anime, but I personally feel you don’t need to be one. We can use our Bankai whenever we want, whenever we need to as long as we believe in it and have a good reason to need it.”
Marissa  stared at me in awe. It was as if she was really trying to see what was inside ttahat big head of mine. On the contrary, maybe it was that she saw what was inside all a long. A part of me I myself still couldn’t see.

“Mr. Carter you are interesting indeed,” Marissa joked, with an English accent. “You know I never got your first name.”
“Oh, it’s Tristen. Your’s is Marissa right?”
“Hmm… Not only are you interesting but its seems you have a good memory as well, Tristen. I’m watching you.”
Marissa then leaned in even closer to me, with her thigh now touching mine. My heart pounded through my chest and I hadn’t even had one once of caffeine.
“So… what do you think my bankai might be?” She asked.
I honestly didn’t know what to tell her. I mean, everything that I’d thought about Marissa before meeting her was completely the opposite of what I expected. She wasn’t the kind of unpredictable that made her not trustworthy. She was just a surprise, as good as a present unwrapped on Christmas Day morning. Or even an unexpected present on ones birthday.
“You’re already showing your Bankai,” I said.
Marissa then punched me in the shoulder again.
“Oh stop being so romantic, we’re in a comic bookstore for crying out loud. There’s no room for that sentimental crap,” she laughed. “I’m just messing with you though, your sweet…”
“Umhmm…” grunted the cashier, pointing to a sign above.
It literally said  “No sentimental Crap. “
Me  and Marissa laughed so hard our stomachs felt like we’d just come from the gym after doing a one hundred crunches.
I don’t know if it was the fact that I really didn’t talk to many girls, but Marissa really did know how to light up a guys life. But unfortunately, that feeling I was having would be ended by an event that no one could ever fathom.
Suddenly the ground started to shake and the windows would shatter stopping all of our laughter.
“Earthquake! Earthquake! Everyone under the nearest table you can find!” Shouted the Cashier.
Although not a soul had listed to him.  People scurried across the streets like chickens with their heads cut off. Like rats out of sewer.Everyone one was in a full blown panic, but surprisingly Marissa was calm. She hadn’t moved a muscle. She stood firm, staring through the giant hole that had caved in from the roof.
“Marissa over here! Quick, get under the table!” I shouted, as I tugged on her hand.
“It’s too late,” she said. “It’s already started. I just wish had more time…”
“Marissa what are you talking! There’s plenty of time, just get down here.”
But little did I know that that wasn’t the time that Marissa was referring to.
I had spun Marissa around to face me, but it was like looking at a completely different person. Her entire aura had changed. Even her once dark brown eyes, almost seemed to be hazel now. Beautiful, but still, not her. Not in the slightest.

Marissa then looked back up to the skies and my eyes would follow. Five giant black holes rested in our atmosphere.  I was really getting tired of seeing so many holes at this point. It only meant something bad was coming. A hole in your tire, a hole in your pipe line, a hole in the ground, a hole like we had on the freaking roof.
“You need to go. It’s I’ll be fine. I have to do this,” said Marissa.
I stuttered over my words to say to Marissa, for I was really confused on what to say.
“Just save me a pop tart, alright?” she said giving me a kiss on the lips. If I could’ve frozen time, I would’ve held that moment for just a little bit longer.

Before my very eyes, Marissa then took to the skies like Superman or should I say Supergirl. I couldn’t see it until now, but maybe, just maybe, this was Marissa’s Bankai.
 Was I beginning to doubt everything I ever believed?
 Bankai had become my way of life, but there I stood in awe by the reality of it.  Marissa was truly the embodiment of it.

I remember my grandma always lecturing my dad about how we all had these gifts hidden within us. She called them Silent Gifts. I didn’t know what any of that meant, but now I was beginning to see what she might’ve meant by it. Maybe Silent gifts was something like a Bankai.

I felt a vibration on the side of my leg. It was my phone.
“Tristen, where are you? Me and your dad just picked up your sister. We’re on our way to Seattle right now to come get you.”
“It was the most scared I’d ever heard my mom Even my dad seemed to be in a panic, and he was never scared of anything.
“Don’t worry son, We will be there soon. H-hang in there,” He stuttered.
The phone kept cutting out. I could barely hear any of them, but somehow I could still hear the faint sobs of my baby sister Aliyah.  Her cries had only made me more anxious. I wanted to be there for her. After all, that was big brothers did for their little sisters. Well, it was what we did for our sisters in general regardless on who was the oldest or not.
Aliyah was only five, but I knew that mom and dad would stop at nothing to protect her, even if it meant their lives, which I hoped would never come down to.
Before I could say anything else I’d hear a crash over the phone. And then there was silence.
“Mom! Dad! Aliyah…” I shouted.

I couldn’t breath. I dropped to the floor and waited for a reply, but the longer I waIted the more the sounding of the crash would be like a dagger to my heart, repeating over and over again. I couldn’t save Marissa, I couldn’t save my family, hell, I don’t even think I could’ve saved myself. I felt useless, yet with the whole world on my shoulder. Something had to be done. Someone had to do something and I was tired of watching everything in my life pass by without doing nothing, only to coward away from it.
  I then shouted at the top of my lungs for the entire world to hear my pain and frustration.
Marissa looked back down stunned by what she was witnessing. Everyone around me covered there ears as well the ones that were in the skies with Marissa. I’d only hoped that my voice carried over enough for my family to know that I was still with them.

A few hours had gone by and I’d find myself in a dark room with little lighting. There were no windows… just hundreds of empty poptart boxes and the sound of crashing helicopters from outside, which startled me to the memory of what I’d just heard on the phone.  It had only made me worry more about my family.
“Well, I see your prince has finally awakened,” said an old man, revealing himself. By the clothes he’d worn, the old man looked like he had come straight from the sixties. You could say his clothes were what some people world refer to as loud; bright yellow shirt and pants that had way too many colors than what was needed. It was no reason I was able to see him the dark.
Coming in behind the old man were twin girls.
“I like him. Can we keep him?” they both said in unison.
The old man shrugged. It was obvious that he could care less what they decided to do with me, which for the time I didn’t no was a good or bad thing.
One of the twins hair was like staring at an orange. She had green eyes and a wore a dress that looked like it was made for a life sized cabbage patch doll. It saddened me for a bit, as she looked a lot like the red haired girl in the movie Sixteen Candles, which was  my moms favorite movie.
On the other hand, the other twin was completely the opposite. She had dark hair, dark eyes, and dark clothing. I could barely see her. Part of me thought it was a bit too fitting with all the chaos that was going on in the world. It was as if she was prepared for these deathly moments that were to come, but after a while of getting to know her, I’d find that that was just what she preferred. Dark clothes that being. But regardless of what was going on, I needed to get to my family right away. They needed me.

“Whoa their cowboy… Take it easy, where do you think you’re going?” asked Marissa, pushing me back down on the couch I was lying on.
“My family… I need to go… Something, something happened… I need to…”
“You’re not going anywhere right now. You need to rest more Tristen. Plus, it’s crazy out there right now and we need to plan out carefully what we’re going to do next. We still don’t know what to do about the holes in the sky, let alone, what we are up against. So, stay here and take this,” said Marissa shoving a poptart in my face. It was cinnamon.
“You need to eat.”
“Yeah son. Trust us, you don’t want to go out there right now,” said the old man.
“But Marissa what about your dad? Aren’t you worried he’s in trouble?” I asked.
“To be honest Tristen… “
“Oh here comes the truth,” said the old man, followed by an annoyed look from Marissa.
“Ignore him,” she said. “The truth is Tristen I don’t know where I came from or who my parents are or even if they are still alive. The man that raised me wasn’t’t my dad but I would take him to be my dad any day, month or year. He was a great man, but he passed years ago. I’ve been on my own ever since. My stepdad found out earlier on and told me to never reveal it. He even taught me how to control it.”
“A Bankai…” I whispered.
“Yeah, kind of like a Bankai. When you started talking about it, it made me think about my own. But it looks likes you have one too silly goose,” said Marissa, pointing to my heart.
“Wait… Are you saying that I have what you have?”
“Yup, you got one alright,” said the old man. “And you nearly blew everyones heads off with it.”
“Yeah, you even had these glowing rings around your fingers,” the twins added.
“Yeah, I totally want one,” said the twin with the dark hair.

Marissa then grabbed my hand gently. “Trust us. We will get to your family soon, but we need to be patient. If they are anything like you said. Then I know that they are okay.”
It was then the twins stepped forward.
“We could have some use for him,” said the twin with the red hair.
“Yes, he special. Although, are we sure he isn’t just some time bomb waiting to happen,” said the other.
Marissa looked concerned.
“I don’t know you two… He’s not ready for all of this, he doesn’t even know what he has, let alone, what we are. We don’t even know for sure if he can even do what he did again.”
The old man spit to the ground.
“You kidding me. I’ve never seen such a power come from someone. If there’s anything that could be said about it, he could be stronger than all of us combined. We got nothing else to lose.”
“So we put him through the test,” said the twins.
The old man nodded.
“I don’t like this guys. What if he doesn’t come back? What if something bad happens to him?” Asked Marissa, now standing in front of me like a protective mother bear to her cub.
 Whatever it was that they were about to send me to, Marissa really wanted to be sure I had a good chance of making it back to her. It  only made me more hesitant of the entire situation.
The twin with red hair then walked up to me. She was a lot shorter than I thought. But nothing about her aura was small at all. With her standing in front me, it felt like someone had injected me with a shot of adrenaline. I even began sweating more than I thought I ever could.
She  then gently placed her hand on Marissa’s shoulder.
“Calm down…There is no other choice. And you know better than the rest of us that we don’t have that much time. We only get one shot at this.”
Marissa hesitantly moved to the side unsure on whether she was making the right decision or not.
“Come with us Tristen,” said the twins.
“But my family… we need to go find them,” I begged.
“Trust in your god, Trust in faith. They are fine and you will see them again soon.”
I wasn’t exactly sure what the wins meant by that. I wasn’t what any would call the religious type, but my family sure was. I was more Buddhist than anything, but one could argue that I wasn’t doing a very good job executing its teaching, as for the moment I was like a broken record, completely lost within myself.
I was unsure of the twins motives towards me. Which hand would I grab, and if so, would it have made a difference if I didn’t? Either way I looked at it, there wouldn’t be any progress far as going to search for my family. It was apparent that they had all made their minds up.

“Ugh… why do people always grab your hand first,” said the twin dressed in all black.
The other sister chuckled. “Told you he’d pick me. Maybe if you weren’t so dark about everything, then maybe people would feel more comfortable around you.”
“What are you saying? Are you saying that I’m not nice?”
“I’ll show you nice.”
The twin in all black then came over and wrapped her arms around me for a big hug. It was awkward… But still, it was nice to receive with all the worry I’d had of my family.
Marissa would then give a laugh as good as a chipmunk would do.
“How cute,” she said. “You know, you could be a great dad someday.”
“Well…trust me when I say it son. Don’t be in no rush to making babies just yet. You’re way too wet behind the ears to even handle it. I’ve had many children. I love them more than anything in the world, but I’d be lying if I said a part of you doesn’t get lost down the road of raising them. You love them, but it just ain’t easy.”
“You had kids?”
“Aye! What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. Nothing at all. I was just curious.”
The old man rolled his eyes.
“Of course I had kids. Two precious girls. As much as they annoys me the twins remind me a lot of them.”
“So, they were twins too?”
“Yup, Identical and everything.”

While the old man talked about the daughters he had, I was still wrapped in the arms of a little girl no taller than my sister Aliyah. A tear shed down the side of my face for her, as well two more for my mom and dad, but I wiped them away quickly. I just didn’t want Marissa to see me like that. My dad never like showing his tears to my mom either. Like father, like son I guess.
Marissa then walked over.
“Mind if I give you a hug too?” she asked. Part of me wanted to tell her she didn’t need my permission. She’d already given me more than that. Even though I fainted earlier, I still remembered the kiss she gave me.
“Eww… Let me get out of the way. I don’t want to be in the middle of this,” said the twin dressed in black.
Oooo! Do you think their going to kiss?” said the twin with the red hair, with her head tilted over curiously to see if we were to do just that.
The old man turned his back shaking his head.I guess everyone had forgotten he was telling a story.

Not far from us there would be a random door.  It wasn’t anything special. Just a regular door made for a regular home. But what was it doing here?
“Marissa… Where are we going?” I asked.
“Just trust me okay… Please, I’ll explain everything when we reach the other end, but we gotta get there first.”
All sorts of feelings for Marissa started to brew in my mind, although, they’d been brewing for awhile. In fact, longer than any burned coffee I’d tasted. She just felt like a complete stranger. Her eyes, her lips, even her stance seemed a bit different than before.
Nevertheless, the old man opened the door. I was expecting some bright beam of light, but no, it was just as dark and empty as a dried out water well.
“Ladies first,” said the old man.
Marissa and the twins shook their heads annoyed. I guess it wasn’t the first time the old man did that. To them he was just always too afraid to go first.
Me and Marissa held each others hand, wile the twins had gone to the ends of us to hold our other hands.
The twin dressed in black then reached for the old mans hand.
“Come on, you’re not that old,” she joked.
“And why are you being so nice all of sudden, Alison?” Asked the old man, curious.
The twin in black would give the old man a wicked stare.
“You’re not supposed to say our actual names around guest, Gerald,” whispered Alison out loud, just enough for me to hear. But I believe that was the intent on whispering out loudly in the first place.
“But to answer your question old man. Since every one thinks I’m so dark of a person, I’ve decided to prove them all wrong. Tristen got a hug and now your taking my hand. Now stop wasting time.”
The old man grabbed Alison’s hand . For whatever reason his face looked saddened. Maybe there was more to the story about his kids that he wasn’t telling us.
“Welp, I guess since you know everyone’s name now, I should probably get it over with and tell you mine before someoneone over there spills the beans,” said the red head twin.
“My name is Maria. It’s nice to meet you.”

Together we all walked through the door. I felt like a new born baby breathing life for the first time. The sky was as beautiful as a Picasso painting. There were no more black holes, just beauty all in its own.
“Welcome to Silent Hall,” said the the twins.

To be continued. 

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