18 Chapter 16: Cringe Overload


My eyes are bloodshot and I'm running to the spot where we play ball. That's where we usually hang out.

She's not there.

I check the nursery. She's not there. I run out, much to the anger of Mrs Gura and Mrs Suisei.

Where could she be? Where could she have went?

Her dad's home? Worth a try.

I run to her dad's home.

I reach the spot, panting. I knock on the door. Nothing. I knock again. Nothing.

If the Metal Radar can detect metal, then the non-earth Radar can detect any material that is not earth. A human is not earth. And if the radar returns a Junior sized object, that's probably Junior.

Worth a shot. I send the Radar through the Earth. I only sense a Jim sized object laying unconscious.

Where else do we hang out?

…..That's all the places that we hang out in.

I walk away from the house. What if she killed herself?

My heart sinks to my stomach. Imagining the world to now not have a shy, angry, easily embarrassed sweet kid that deserves the world frightens me. It makes me sick.

I don't know where she's at.

I don't realize I walked to the Bazaar. I think of all the places in this mountain (assuming she's still in this mountain.) The Nursery? No. The housing area? Too big to search, but I'll check it later. The edge of the Mountain? Once again, too big.

Where could she be?

A familiar looking poster of a very wealthy man with many rings and silver glasses catches my attention.

The mine entrance? Could she be there?

Worth a shot. My legs are hurting, but I still run. I hope I'm not too late.


My body is trembling with anticipation. She's got to be here.

I reach the mine entrance. Where is she? In the still standing houses? I send my newly created human radar to the houses. She's not there.

I don't believe it. I send the radars again. Not there. She's not in the standing houses.

Is she in…..

I look at the piles of debris caused by houses so old that they couldn't support their weight.

What if her body's in there?


Thankfully, she's not there.

I breathe out from the stress. She's not here.

I could send a human radar in all directions. It's less reliable though.

Nothing to the East.

Nothing on the West.

Nothing South.

Nothing North.


She's probably not here.

My mind goes blank. I don't know where she's at.

I don't know where to look at.

I can't give up though.

I'll wander the housing area, see if-

An anomaly in the radar.

To the West. There's something in the West.

I look to the West. The mines. I send another Radar Wave to the mines.

A pair of small feet. 300 metres West, in the spot where we searched for the gold.

I need a lantern. My hands are trembling. I make another lantern. I light it up and go inside, through the familiar tunnels.

There she is. She's concentrating on getting the gold out.

I walk to her. My footsteps echo in the tunnel, and she notices me.

Don't make it awkward, me.

Looks like she's made a lantern herself. Her She looks like a mess. Mud cakes her clothes and face. Her eyes look hollow and dead. She's given up all hope.

I've never seen a child look this depressed.

She takes one look at me.

Her lower lip trembles. She looks incredibly ashamed. She's about to cry.

As her eyes start getting wet, she turns away from me. She wants to hide her tears.

"Umm..do you want me to call you a he or she?" I ask her.

"Who-who told you about that?" Her voice quivers.

"Your dad."

"I've always been a she. I wanted to tell you. I'm sorry."


"Why are you here?" She asks.

"Can't I see my best friend?" I ask.

"Stop it."

"What? You're my best friend. I swear!" I protest.

"You can tell me that you don't care about me to my face, you know." She turns to face me. She seems to have controlled herself from crying.

"What are you talking about?" I'm confused.

"You don't care about me. You just hang out with me to make yourself happy." She's shaking from either sadness or anger.

She continues, "You don't care. You can tell me that, I know you don't.

My dad doesn't care about me. No one cares about me. Don't give me false hope."

"Of course I fucking care about you!" I say.

"No you don't. Please, don't tell that to me. It hurts even more when you lie."

I don't know what to do.

She's just standing there, silent. She doesn't want to look at me. She's looking at the ground.

My heart tells me to do something.

She looks so miserable. I don't want her to look like this. I want to comfort her.

Whatever. I don't care if it's cringe. I'll just do it.

I walk up to her. She still refuses to see me.

"I…care about you." I hug her.

She's shocked. I can feel her body recoil. She's still very stiff. She's not reciprocating the hug though.

"No." She says softly. "You don't."

"I do." I say.

"But you told me that you're friends with me because that makes you happy." She argues. She's starting to tear up.

Jesus, she's as stiff as a cardboard even though I'm hugging her.

"Yes. I am happy when I'm with you." I say. "But I don't just feel happy being with you. I feel happy for you. Every time you beat me at a magic skill, every time you feel happy hanging out with me, every time you have fun playing with me, I feel happy because you're happy.

That's what it means to care for someone. To be happy because they're happy, and to be sad because they're sad."


She's crying quietly, and she's clinging on to me. Like she doesn't want me to leave.

"Do you care for me?" She asks.

"Of course I do, you idiot." I reply

She's shaking as she's crying. "Why didn't you say it like that before?"

"I'm-I'm sorry." I start tearing up a bit too.

"It's okay. I'm sorry too. For everything." She says between sniffles and hugs me hard enough to hurt just a little bit.

I'm ashamed to admit, for some odd reason, I start crying too. Even though I went through nothing close to what she has.

We stay like that, hugging and crying like the cringe people we are for a very long time. It's as if she wanted all the care she was supposed to receive in one big hug.

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