To Live

Taiga sat on the edge of her bed barely able to breathe. The gasps were coming fast now, her entire body was imprisoned in this lonely state. If she let them, the tears would keep coming.

The restaurant was very dimly lit. Letters in many colors and fonts with blushing bulbs filled the room like some kind of clown explosion, and Taiga sat there alone. Her feet just barely touched the floor – she was short enough to just skim it – so she found herself kicking her feet in anticipation.

The five women at the other table were a lineup of Barbie dolls over the years. 1959 Barbie had her hair pulled back so tight her head might pop off. 2000 Barbie was full of alcohol and starting to slur. The other three looked like they may be 2014 models, yet unable to work a laptop.

Taiga rolled her eyes, pushing up her cheeks with the palms of her hands. She toyed with her seat, testing its integrity by wobbling back and forth. She didn’t see Ryuji come around the other side of the table.

She nearly jumped out of her skin, but he gave her a wide and welcoming smile.

“So, have you ordered yet?” Ryuji probed, perusing the menu in the process. Taiga shook her head. “Do you want spaghetti?” Taiga shook her head harder. “Throw me a bone okay?”

“I want meat. An entire plate of it. A lot of meat,” she huffed out.

Ryuji smirked and tried to hide it under his menu. Taiga gave him that sharp sideways glare before giving him a devilish grin.

They sat in awe of each other for a while. Blushing when their eyes met, and talking about nothing and everything all at once.

Taiga ate steak with a vigor only a tiger could muster up, gaining the attention of Ryuji. I small smile tugged at the corners of his lips.

“Why did you want to live alone so badly?” Ryuji started, looking worried.

Taiga seemed to be working her answer over in her head while staring at the steak on her plate. She finished chewing and Ryuji couldn’t help but notice the bits of steak she missed around her mouth like a child.

When her large eyes met his he nearly lost his breath.

“I couldn’t stand to be around them. They fought -” she pondered this for a moment. “They fought over me. They fought over the house. I can’t remember a day in which my parents weren’t yelling.”

She wiped her mouth with a napkin and then sat her hands in her lap, looking down at them.

“When I turned eighteen I ran, and I didn’t want to look back. They gave me money to live on, they want me to be okay‚Ķ” Taiga started to bunch the napkin up under the table, and Ryuji could see the muscles tensing in her arms.

“It’s okay,” Ryuji started in. “Don’t talk about it. I didn’t know, and I didn’t mean to ask.”

Taiga nodded, and they finished their dinner in silence.

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