The sun...? But I thought the sky was so cloudy... Thought a young boy, clad in winter clothing.
An endless expanse of blue stretched across the heavens, with not a single puff in it. Flowers dotted the fields that lay ahead of him. It all seemed like a dream to him... and yet, he felt cold. It was a chill from within his body, and despite the scarf he wore, the boots, the leggings, the shirt, everything on him, he was bitten by ice. Hopefully, the temperate environment would defrost him. The boy soon diverted his direction to the rusted pocket watch that he discovered in the snow earlier. The hour's hand was set at noon, while the minute's hand was a few spaces above the two mark. Altogether it read eight minutes. But what caught this child's sapphire eyes was the seconds' hand- it was ticking backward. A flaw?
"Hey, Chocobo, did you like the Greens?" rang a girl's voice.
"Kweh!" came the response.
Raffaello froze in his tracks. "Why... it sounds familiar..." As he stepped forward, he noticed two vaguely familiar shapes. When he drew closer, the figures' identities were revealed: a young girl with magenta hair about his age, donning a white jacket lined with red triangles. Another was a yellow bird a few inches shorter than the girl; around its neck was a red bag. To him, this could mean one thing. He's back home, reunited with his friends.
"Sh... Shirma! Chocobo!" He cried out and ran towards them. The chill was overcome by a sense of encouragment and friendship that were tucked deep away in his memories. He was almost tearing when he approached them. The yellow bird snapped out of his cares and looked over to the direction of the green-haired child sprinting in their direction.
"Kweh! Kweh kweh kweh!" Squeaked Chocobo.
"Huh? What is it?" Replied Shirma. Chocobo stretched out his right wing and motioned the girl to the other. Once she looked up, she immediately halted. Was it a ghost she was seeing? No, it can't be. Is it? "Ah... Raffaello..?"
Pant... pant... Why am I feeling cold..?
As the boy drew closer, he screeched over to stop. "Oh... I thought I was dreaming..." He mumbled a bit under his breath. He was worn out from th blizzard that he waded through and the added stress from running didn't help either. As his face locked eyes with the ground, he gave a cursory glance at the pocket watch. Its minute hand was now at five minutes. Why is it going backward...?
Shirma stepped a little closer and stroked the strands of hair on his head. "Are you okay..? You look like you've been through a lot."
"I did..." He leaned back so he could see his friends.
"Kweh..." Chocobo was the first to hug him. Shirma soon followed.
"We missed you very much!" Came Shirma's sound of joy.
"Ah, thanks. It was really good to see you again after such a long time. It's been months!" Raffaello grinned a bit and scratched the back of his head.
"Months?" The girl's ears perked up. "Um... Raffaello." Her smile grew serious.
"Yes, what is it?" Raffaello asked inquisitively.
"How could it have been months... when you only left two weeks ago?"
An odd silence fell over the trio. Two... weeks? But... how? He looked down. What was going on? "But... It's impossible... I was in the snowfield just now, north of the train tracks... Chocobo, you remember I was in Talkas, right?" Chocobo also frowned. The bird pulled out a letter from his bag and gave it to the green-haired child. As he looked at it, he froze even more. It was his letter from the time he was at Talkas, writing to Chocobo about the locomotive that he would soon ride.
"That letter just arrived a few days ago." said the white mage.
Now filled with grief, he shook his head violently. "No... it can't... It's not... I'm just dreaming! I'm just dreaming!" Tears streamed down his reddish face as he sank to the ground and sobbed. "It can't... I thought I was home, but I'm not..." Shirma leaned over to the saddened child and petted his head as she was a mother. Chocobo sat beside him and embraced him in his wings.
"Raffaello... You're always at home with us. Remember, we'll always in your memories and you'll always be in ours. That way..." She gently lifted his head up to see his eyes. "You'll never be truly alone. That's why Chocobo gave you that feather, to remind you of that promise." Chocobo squeaked in agreement and pointed at the cyan green puzzle piece strapped to his bag. Raffaello glanced at the badge, then back to his friends. His whole body felt cold now, except for one area- his heart. It was warmer than his wintery clothing. It was enough to keep him alive, despite the growing chill. He cried softly in Chocobo's wings, but instead of a frown, he was smiling.
"Thank you... thank you so much, guys..."
The two continued to comfort the boy, until something unusual occured. As Shirma hugged him, her hand phased through. "Ah..? What's going on?"
"Huh?" Raffaello looked up and noticed that his arm was transparent. Chocobo began to look at him distressed. As it frantically scanned him, it laid its larg blue eyes on the rusted pocket watch hanging on the side of the boy's pants. Both hands are at the twelve.
"Chocobo, what are you looking at?" Shirma asked, distraught with the unknown. Much to their dismay, as they looked at the boy, he vanished into thin air. "Raffaello!"
"Kweh!" Sadly, their cries were in vain. He was gone.
The scene was very familiar. Flakes of ice silently fall to the earth. Nearby trees were barren of leaves. The sky itself was grey and dark; multiple clouds hang just overhead. Raffaello laid on the freezing snow, exhausted and unable to walk any further. He stared blankly at the sky, then reached for the rusted pocket watch. One feature he noticed was the cracked glass. His sapphire eyes were dimming the longer he stared at it. A small smile developed on his pale face. The child's entire body was now too frozen to be warmed up, but did it matter?
"At least..." He uttered, closing his eyes. "They will always be on my mind... Thank you..." His hand released the watch back to the snow pile. His head tilted over to the side. The body relaxed and loosened up its grip on the limbs. The snow continue to fell, but he could no longer feel it touching him.
When spring returned, the fields were dotted with flowers once more. The endless, clear skies had once more appeared and the trees were blooming. In the middle of the field laid a small gravestone with a boquet of flowers carefully placed in the front. As the wind blew, a shadow emerged in the shape of a young child bearing three distinctively large cowlicks. He floated over to the flowers and picked it up, cradling it with love.
I love these flowers so much... I can't believe they picked out my favorites this week. The figure cheerily commented.
Don't worry... You'll always be in my memories...