Sky Bird: Conclusion

Hi, whoever actually read my story. Firstly, thank you for reading Sky Bird. It was a really fun story for me to practice writing, because of the entire concept of the story being based on my high school experiences, but making the main character, Kendall, based on somebody who actually bullied me in real life. I just figured I would write this post so that I can put a true end to Sky Bird, and address any questions or thoughts you might have after reading this story series.

The reason why the real life Kendall bullied me was actually a combination of reasons, but it was not too unlike what happened between him and the Chiangs. Money, specifically financial statuses, could really sour relationships or cause others to question your abilities: the real life Kendall assumed that rich people could buy talent, which was not always the case. Trying to understand why he thought that way was key for Kendall’s character development. Unfortunately, I never quite reconnected or reconciled with his real life counterpart, but I can somehow live with that.

To be honest, I wanted Fanny to be the main character originally. I just enjoyed writing his character because he was so sassy and forward. I even considered writing a spin-off with Fanny as the main character, but because of how inherently interesting and progressive his character was, it would have been too easy and it would not have particularly challenged me. I found it hard not to completely develop Fanny’s character here, because he was not the main protagonist, and I tried really hard not to make him overshadow Kendall’s character.

Chloe and Megan’s dynamic was inspired by my own friendships in high school, specifically when I was in cross country and was really close with one or two of my teammates. I did not really get to develop their characters too much, unfortunately, but I wanted both to come across as competent, capable, and in Chloe’s case, more lighthearted and childish, while Megan would come across as more responsible and easier to anger.

Sophia and Carly each took qualities from a variety of my friends from high school. I wanted Sophia to be more of the outwardly shy, inwardly brave type of personality. In Sophia’s case, I really wanted to make her have a constant presence in Kendall’s life, something you can pick up on when you reread earlier chapters. I tried to make her more relatable towards the middle and end of the story, focusing on showing more of her perspective, just to further imply that she would get together with Kendall in the end.

I tried making Carly outgoing, but I wanted her to come off as generally uninteresting to Kendall, just to make it apparent to him that they were not I wanted Carly’s presence to completely overshadow Sophia’s in the beginning, since the story was told by Kendall’s perspective, and her initially being his crush. Carly was supposed to come across as the girl next door, and also a little miss perfect-type of figure.

For Jared, I really only took the name from somebody I went to middle and high school with. Aside from that, he was an original character from my high school experience. Since Fanny was gay, I wanted there to be somebody who could help Kendall become more accepting of Fanny, so Jared’s role changed from being a homophobic background character to being Fanny’s closeted boyfriend. For Kendall, seeing one of his closest friends date his mortal enemy, it challenged his views and priorities: would his hate for Fanny overcome his friendship with Jared?

Matt’s character, it was left relatively undeveloped. He was directly based on somebody I knew in high school, even down to the name. I really did not know what to add to his character, mostly because I felt like Jared already accomplished everything that Matt could in terms of the role of Kendall’s confidant. At one point in the story, I considered pairing Matt with Carly, in hopes that their relationship would help develop the characters, but I opted out of that, because I felt like at that point, almost all of the characters would be dating and that would just be a copout. So I left his character along with Carly’s relatively untouched. Needless to say, Matt is a very nice and funny person, both the character and the real life version. I hope some of that easygoing humor was able to come through in the few moments he actually had.

One of the recurring themes I wanted to capture was the idea of brotherhood. I focused a bit on the dynamics between Jared, Matt, and Kendall, trying to show the friendship between three young men. I also focused a few chapters on Kendall and Gil. I originally had bigger plans for Gil, wanting to expand his role into a main character, but him being a middle schooler made it difficult to include him as much as I would have liked to. Gil’s character was also left relatively untouched, but I hope I did include enough to make him a character of some interest.

Overall, I am happy with how the final story turned out, plot-wise. I honestly had no clue where I was going in the beginning. For a fleeting second, I thought about making Kendall and Fanny a pairing, but decided not to for the sake of it being way too polarizing and Romeo and Juliet-esque. I even considered putting Kendall with Carly in the beginning, but the more I wrote about Carly’s character, the more I felt they were incompatible. I was really happy that Kendall and Sophia wound up together, because when I first wrote in Sophia, I was expecting her to be a background character and remain relatively uninteresting. The first vision I had for Sky Bird was for Kendall to be a family guy, close with his two siblings, and using his family as an escape from the antagonistic Chiang family. But I added in more characters and started to expand the world, and it wound up being a story about acceptance, love, and having an open mind. I hope you enjoyed reading Sky Bird, and I look forward to continuing my next work, Road Movie!

Advertisements

Sky Bird: Chapter 23

It was finally Monday, first period. The moment of truth for Kendall. He sat there, nervously with Matt and Fanny, waiting for Sophia to talk in. “Hey!” Sophia ran in, panting. “Sophia! You’re late!” Mrs. Johnson frowned. “I’m so sorry!” She apologized frantically, making her way to her seat. “They locked the back gate, so I had to hope the fence.” She sighed. “At least you did the smart thing. Remember Kendall earlier this semester?” Fanny sniggered. “Shut up, Fanny.” Kendall growled. “Are you okay, though?” The green-eyed brunette turned to her. “Yeah, I am.” She nodded. “You’re not hurt or anything?” Nah. I’m used to hopping fences.” She admitted. “Learning new things about you every day.” Matt laughed. “Okay, guys. Since we can’t just have you guys doing nothing, I’m going to be putting on a movie based on a book you’ll be expected to read next year if you’re taking English 3 AP. It’s the film adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved. Fun fact, Oprah Winfrey played the lead!” Everyone looked at each other in amusement. “Alright, let’s do this!” Matt and Fanny shouted. “Wait, Beloved? Oh, that’s a scary novel! Carly told me about it.” Sophia turned to Kendall. “Wait, are you scared easily?” Sophia smirked. “Dude, I’m Thai and those ghosts are terrifying. I doubt anything from the American horror genre can be remotely as bad.” “Alright, let’s begin!”

“I thought you said you weren’t scared by American horror films.” Fanny shook his head at Sophia as they walked to Chemistry Honors together. “I don’t know why I lied to Kendall. I guess I didn’t want him to think I’m weak or vulnerable?” She turned to him. “I can get that, but if you’re going to be in a relationship with him, it’s perfectly fine to be honest. Yeah, it’ll be annoying that you guys will be getting all lovey-dovey-boo-hoo-I’m-so-scared-hold-me-boyfriend-annoying, but that’s just natural with young love.” “Love? I’m 16, Fanny! 16 year olds don’t fall in love!” She rolled her eyes at his comment. “You’re probably right. I mean, maybe in year, you guys will outgrow each other, break up, and block each other on FaceBook, but that’s just life.” Fanny chuckled. The Thai girl looked horrified. “Oh come on, it’s not as bad as it sounds! Even if Jared and I break up, I might be all hurt and shit first, but then I’ll get over it.” He mentioned, trying to make her feel better, but evidently failing. “Okay, I’m not going to you for love advice.” Sophia shook her head. “You’re going to go to Carly with her majestic relationship with Damian?” The Chinese boy raised his eyebrow skeptically. “Okay, touche.” Carly and Damian’s break-up was so devastating that whenever Carly’s friends see him, they outright ignore him.

“Alright, so here’s what we’re going to do today in Physics.” Ms. Park looked around. “Since we want to have some fun, we are actually going to play the marshmallow challenge. Do you guys know what that is?” A small blonde junior raised her hand. “Yes, Hannah?” “Isn’t it like Chubby Bunny? So fitting a ton of marshmallows in our mouths? And what does that have to do with Physics?” Ms. Park stifled a laugh. “No, it’s not that! It’s a game where you have four pasta noodles, tape, scissors, rope, and a marshmallow and your goal is to building the tallest, stable structure to hold the marshmallow on top.” Everyone looked at each other, concerned. “So let’s go at it individually.” She smiled, handing out the supplies. Today was going to be a very fun class. The brunette smiled to himself, thinking about how he would get the marshmallow to balance. “And if you get the highest structure, I’ll give you 5 points extra credit. More incentive!” She wanted to make sure that everyone would try on this. “I’ll give you all 15 minutes, since we need to take time to measure them and everything.”

“So it wasn’t awkward in first period?” Carly and Sophia were in the gymnasium for their fourth period together. “Nah, we watched a movie, but I lied to him. I told him I wasn’t scared easily, but who am I kidding myself?” “I’m surprised he doesn’t remember you being a scaredy-cat.” Carly giggled.” You’ve known each other for so long! Not one Halloween Party where you were scared?” “It’s more like Beloved is just scarier in general.” She admitted. “It’s not like the rest of the stereotypical scary movies in American culture. That movie actually made me want to scream and cry. It rivals Thai ghost stories.” “Uh, do I want to know?” Carly shuddered. She hated horror movies. The only person in their friend group who wasn’t scared was Megan; she loved scary movies. “But you really shouldn’t lie to Kendall. Especially if you’re about to get into a relationship with him. You guys need to trust each other.” She reasoned. “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll go talk to him after this.” Sophia wanted to make sure that whatever it was between her and Kendall, there was honesty.

“Kendall!” Sophia ran up to the brunette. It was lunch time, and he was with Matt and Jared eating lunch in front of the library. “Hey, what’s up?” He turned to see her standing next to him. “Can we talk?” “Oh. Uh, sure?” He got up and headed off with her. “I’ll see you guys later!” He waved. Matt and Jared exchanged looks of amusement. The two made their way towards the black top, where almost nobody was. “So, what is it that you wanted to talk about?” “So when we were watching Beloved, I might have lied. I told you that I was not scared by non-Thai things, and that was a half-lie. I didn’t think that American things could scare me. Except Beloved was terrifying.” The brunette began to snicker. “Wait, that’s what you wanted to tell me? That you were scared of Beloved?” He was laughing at this point. “What’s so funny? I’m trying to be honest with you, since we are…. are we in a relationship?” She looked to him as he stopped laughing. “Sorry, it was just really cute the way you thought it was that important to tell me. I appreciate your honesty, Sophia. And yeah, why the hell not? Do you want to be in a relationship?” Kendall grinned at her. “Of course! Why else would I try to be completely honest with you, right?” “Okay. I want to you to be girlfriend.” He nodded, holding her hand. “And I want you to be my boyfriend.”

“Are they holding hands?!” Megan and Fanny were shocked to see Sophia and Kendall walking into their Japanese classroom, hand in hand. “Aw, I’m so glad for them!” Carly laughed. “Oh, young love. These bitches are crazy. Make sure that they use a condom. Don’t want somebody to be somebody’s baby mama!” Sharquiqui shouted. “Uh… that’s a bit extreme.” Kendall glanced at her as they sat down. “Skye-baka is dating Puckchareon-san? Well, Puckchareon-san, be careful. You might catch his stupid.” Kawaguchi-sensei warned. Sophia just rolled her eyes at the comment and turned back to Kendall. “At least being in class with you will make Mondays go by a lot faster from now on.” She beamed at him. “Time flies when you’re having fun.” He agreed. Fanny, Megan, and Sharquiqui all groaned as Carly giggled. “I swear, if Jared and I were ever this sappy, I apologize now.” Fanny frowned. “I think I am getting physically ill from watching this.” Megan shook her head in irritation.

Sky Bird: Chapter 22

“So you guys kissed?” Carly gasped. Sophia and Carly were getting brunch together on Sunday. “Yeah. It was so awkward.” Sophia put her hands on her face, embarrassed. “Oh, come on, it couldn’t have been that bad, right?” “Okay, fine. I really liked it and I thought it was sweet of him to drive all the way to my place to talk to me like that.” She confessed, putting her hands back on her lap. “So are you guys official? Or at least spoke since that night?” Carly asked before taking a sip of her tea. “Not yet. I’m really scared to.” “What’s there to be scared about?” The Korean girl raised an eyebrow. “You guys both confessed to each other. Isn’t the next step to start dating?” “I’ve never done this before, neither has he, so it’s just really awkward.” Sophia shook her head, trying not to blush. “Hmm… Well I still remember from when I used to date Damian, how he’d always take me on dates and stuff. Granted, we kissed after maybe the third date, so you guys are going in a very different direction than I did.” Carly chuckled. “Kissing before the actual dating? But I’d say just go on a couple dates with him. And if it doesn’t work out, just laugh it off and go back to being friends. Don’t let the romantic feelings make anything weird, okay?” “Alright, Carly. I’ll try. But if things go south, then what?” “Then we just cut Kendall out of our lives. Easy peasy!” She laughed.

“You didn’t talk to her since then?!” Jared and Matt looked at Kendall in disbelief. “Well…no? I’m not sure what to do.” Kendall sighed. He felt like he blew it royally. “Don’t say that. I’m sure she appreciated how straightforward you were, you know, driving to her place and talking to her in person? It shows that you’re a decent person.” Matt pointed out. “How did you and Fanny end up together again?” Kendall looked at Jared. “We started dating in the beginning of the semester. It was pretty awkward actually…” The blonde started. “Why was it awkward?” “Because it just happened for us. The first time, uh.. well… so I might have been checking him out in the locker room? He was taking off his shirt, and then I noticed his butt and how perky-” “Okay, can we please not get that much into detail?” Matt interrupted, clearly uncomfortable with Jared’s summarization of Fanny’s body. “Okay, but basically Fanny caught me checking him out. And he thought it was hilarious, because he had a feeling I was gay because I kept saying words like ‘fag’ and he had a feeling I was checking him out for quite a while.” “And?” Kendall was not quite sure where this story was going. “Well, he and I just started talking more and we started to go on dates. It was pretty thrilling at first, because it was all done in secret, but we started to realize how badly we needed to go public about it. Both of us felt like it was an itch that needed to be scratched, and that’s when we came out to you. Well, accidentally.” Jared chuckled. “But for the dates, did you guys just initiate it?” Kendall pressed, wanting to figure out how this whole concept of dating worked. “Yeah, we kept talking, and then I was like ‘let’s get dinner sometime!’ and then it happened. We kissed on the first date and everything.” The blonde laughed. “Alright, so I’ll just text her now.” Kendall sighed, pulling out his phone. “Hey, Sophia. Are you free for a meal anytime this week?” He sent. “Sure. What time?” She shot back.

“Kendall! Let’s go!” Gil tugged at his older brother’s arm. They were supposed to go to Little Tokyo to hang out together for the rest of the day. “Alright, give me a sec.” Kendall rushed to pull on his socks and shoes. “Okay, coming now!” The older brunette ran down the stairs and joined his little brother in the car. “Alright, let’s go!” The engine revved and the two left the apartment complex. “Why did you want to go to Little Tokyo again?” Kendall looked at his brother. “Mostly because I miss actual Japan.” Gil sighed. The middle schooler has been having Japan-withdrawals since spring break had ended. “Well, I’m with you on that. I miss Japan too.” He sighed. It truly was a wonderful country. And Little Tokyo would probably be the best approximation to it outside of Asia. “Hold on, I’m going to try to park.” Kendall saw a parking structure just off the Japanese Village Plaza. “Alright, and we’re parked!”

“I love this place!” Gil and Kendall were getting takoyaki from a small stand across the street from the Tokyo souvenir store. Sitting down on a bench underneath the large umbrella in the center of the plaza, the two brothers continued to snack on takoyaki while talking about life. “So for high school, Algebra 2 Honors, English 1 Honors, and Biology Honors?” Gil looked to his brother for class suggestions. “Yeah, that’s probably the best. And which sport were you thinking?” “Either football or cross country.” “Hm.. knowing you, try cross country. Megan, Chloe, and Fanny can look after you.” Kendall pointed out. “That’s true. Fanny’s on varsity so he can help.” “Yeah, I’ll try cross country, and if I don’t like that, I’ll try football or maybe even soccer?” He looked the brunette hopefully. “If you do soccer, let me know. Jared’s going to be captain next year.” “Will do!” Gil grinned.

“So what’s for dinner?” The younger Skye looked to his brother. They were still in Little Tokyo, but it was already night time. “How about Kula?” “Ooh! The revolving sushi place?” Gil’s face lit up immediately. The two made their way to the restaurant and put their names on the waiting list. While they were waiting, the brothers were admiring the array of paper lanterns that hovered over the plaza. It was breathtaking to see the white and red orbs illuminating the blue tiled roofs of the buildings nearby. This sort of view made Kendall wish he could move to Japan. Never has he felt so grateful to be part Japanese. “Oh, look, it’s our turn!” The two turned and saw the hostess calling their name. “Let’s get some sushi on our bellies!” Kendall patted his stomach jokingly. “Yup!” The two walked back over to the restaurant, and took their seats in front of the revolving sushi belt. It was so interesting, watching plates of sushi just move past them. But for some reason, Kendall just could not stop thinking about her. No matter what he tried to do to distract himself. He could only think about spending these memories with Sophia.

Sky Bird: Chapter 21

It was Friday afternoon, fifth period. “Here it is, Kawaguchi-sensei!” Fanny handed the bald man his flash drive. “The movie, delivered on Friday, as promised.” “Good job, Chiang-san. You saved Skye-baka’s grade!” He laughed. “Yeah, Skye-baka owes me his life.” Fanny laughed in a dramatic fashion. “You’re not allowed to do that! Only select princess-type characters in animes and dramas are allowed to!” Kawaguchi-sensei hit the boy in the back of the head. “Ouch. That fucking hurt.” Fanny groaned, walking back. “Alright, guys. So instead of watching a drama, we’ll be watching Chiang-san’s movie project!” He put the flash drive into his projector. “Alright, so here it is!” The screen projected the title “The Land of the Rising Love.” Snickers could be heard cross the room at the ridiculous title. “IT WAS KENDALL’S IDEA!” Fanny screamed, trying to avoid being laughed at by the rest of the class. Everyone else just rolled their eyes at him. The movie opened with Megan and Kendall, walking out of LAX. They were immediately greeted by Fanny, who welcomed them to the land of Japan. The movie started out really slowly, in Kendall’s eyes. They didn’t really aim for comedy unfortunately, so the brunette was worried people would fall asleep.

It finally got to the big scene. Kendall and Sophia’s kiss. The entire class gasped, as the two looked at each other, embarrassed by it. “Did you guys really kiss?” Kawaguchi-sensei paused the movie and looked at them. “No…” Sophia shook her head. “Lame. You guys should have just done it for the movie!” He shook his head. “Skye-baka! You’re the man! Grow a pair and kiss the pretty model!” “That’s what I said!” Fanny agreed, looking at Sophia and Kendall. “Take one for the team, guys.” “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” The entire class started to chant. “What the actual hell?” Kendall glared at everyone. That escalated really quickly. “No, we’re not. You can’t make us.” Sophia shook her head. The two were both starting to blush furiously. But the chanting wasn’t stopping. “Okay, fine!” Kendall growled, cupping Sophia’s face and kissing her on the lips. Everyone just gasped before going silent. That definitely stopped the chanting.

The rest of the day was awkward for Sophia and Kendall. The two did not speak since the kiss. It all happened so suddenly that Kendall did not know how to process it. He felt like the kiss was right. When their lips touched, Kendall just felt like Sophia was the person he needed to be doing that with. The feel of her lips against his made his heart flutter. But seeing how Sophia reacted, and the circumstances in which they kissed, he felt horrible. It was almost like being a rapist in that he did not get her consent to do that. He forced himself upon her. He genuinely felt like a terrible person at this moment. Quietly, he laid on his bed, pondering what will happen to their friendship. He did not know what to even say in this situation to rectify it. Dozing off, Kendall just tried to preoccupy his mind with other things.

“How dare you!” The girl in the white dress shouted at him. “My purity. My innocence.” She covered her face in shame. The flowers around her began to wilt. “It’s all dying.” She sobbed. The grass and trees joined the flowers, drooping and sinking into the soil. “Hey, what happened?” Kendall approached her. “I did not want this to happen. Not like this.” She sobbed from behind her hands. “Did not want what?” “The kiss. Not like that.” The girl placed her hands down. She was Sophia. The girl from his dreams. It was Sophia. “No. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do it. The chanting, the pressure, it just got to me.” Kendall slowly walked over to her before falling to his knees. He gently placed his hands beneath hers. “You’re somebody who was always there for me. Somebody I could rely on to make me smile, laugh, and keep me calm.” He smiled at her, fighting back the tears. “Sophia, I think I might love you.” He admitted. “Kendall… I love you too. I have for such a long time.” She confessed. Suddenly, the grass began to sprout up again. Green started to flood the meadows and plants. “Kendall, she’s waiting for you. The real me. Go to her. And tell her everything you told me.” She smiled, getting back up.

“Hey, can we talk?” Kendall messaged Sophia. His heart was racing. He did not know what kind of response to expect. “Okay, sure.” Sophia sent back. “I’ll go to your place.” The brunette sent back. He got up and went into his car. He needed to see her. Arriving at Sophia’s apartment building in Westwood, he sent her a text. “Okay. Coming down now.” The girl appeared and got into the passenger seat. “Hey.” She seemed to be avoiding eye contact with him. “So you wanted to talk?” “Yeah. Sophia, I’ve known you since we were little. And honestly, I didn’t really think much of you beyond being friends at first. But I realize how kind, patient, and caring of a person you are, especially with me. You’re somebody who I genuinely appreciate. I really like, Sophia. That kiss, I’m sorry that I forced it on you like that. But it felt right to me.” The brunette confessed, terrified of what she thought of him. “Kendall… I’ve had a crush on you since you first defended me in the first grade. You’re somebody whose friendship I have valued for a long, long time. You mean a lot to me too. That kiss, it just confirmed what I had already felt about you.” The brunette blushed as he turned to face her. Their hands met, and then their lips.

“Oh, I need to get going. I’ll see you later, okay?” Sophia blushed, after their lips separated. She got out of the car, and ran back up to her apartment. Kendall felt happy knowing that Sophia reciprocated his feelings. He honestly did not think that he could date anyone after Carly and him never got off the ground, but he was happy with the end result. Sophia, on the other hand, was still in shock. She did not think that she would ever date Kendall. But it looks like that was a very likely possibility at this point. She finally got her Cinderella moment so to speak. Her proverbial prince charming had arrived, and swept her into his car. That sounded horribly inappropriate, but it was not remotely as illegal as it sounded.

Sky Bird: Chapter 19

It was Wednesday, first period. The class had just finished Tortilla Curtain, much to Kendall’s delight; he wasn’t particularly fond of the satirical style, mostly because sarcasm could be hard to detect when it is in written text. “I loved how shit just hit the fan, pardon my language.” Fanny smiled. “Especially at the end when the dam just broke, and the water flooded. It’s funny because America just gave birth, so both the dam and America broke their waters within a couple hours of each other.” Matt sniggered in agreement. “I’m so glad there’s no more readings for the school year.” Sophia whispered to Kendall; the class had finally changed their seating arrangements, and Kendall and Matt moved up to the front with Fanny and Sophia. “Well, now that we’re done with our readings, you guys just need to focus on finishing your writing portfolios. Make sure to add in a final reflection, and then we are done with this course for the semester!” Mrs. Johnson beamed at everyone. “You’re all almost done with English 2 Honors!”

“So class, finals are coming up in the next month, so I want you guys to really buckle down and focus. I know this isn’t an honors class, but that’s because our school doesn’t offer Physics Honors, only Physics AP.” Ms. Kim turned to Kendall. “Which I am expecting to see some of you in.” The brunette nodded back eagerly. He couldn’t wait to take Physics AP with Ms. Kim the following year. “That being said, make sure to look over all of the reviews in the back of each chapter. Your final is going to be cumulative, but we will re-review everything, chapter by chapter, for the rest of the semester.” She explained, much to the horror of almost everyone except for Kendall. The brunette was excited, because this was his stomping ground. He could calculate the velocity of a falling object a lot easier than writing a thesis for an analysis on Jane Eyre for sure.

“Hi, Kendall!” Sophia and Fanny waved to him as he entered his third period, Chemistry Honors. “Hey, guys!” He waved back as they left for their next classes. “Good morning, Kendall.” Ms. Ling smiled as he took his seat. “Good morning, Ms. Ling.” He beamed at her. Soon, the entire class filled in, and she began her lesson plan for the day. “So you guys are getting ready for finals soon. Our final, I’m sorry to say, but you’re going to have to memorize the entire periodic table.” The entire class went silent. There have been louder funerals. “I’m joking! I’m not a psychotic person! You guys get to bring a one page cheat sheet for your finals! Use them well!” She smiled at everyone as they started laughing in relief. Kendall, while he was laughing with everyone else, secretly wished that they didn’t have the cheat sheets, because he had actually memorized the elements for fun. You could name any abbreviation, any number, and he could give you the name, group, and the number of ions, electrons, and neutrons.

“Finals are coming up and I know it’s a scary time, but you guys are a gifted class, so I’m worried that my final will be too easy for you all.” Mr. Darcy teased his fourth period Pre-Calc Honors class. “Oh jeez, the bar has been raised.” Jared sniggered. “You got that right, Mr. Holt!” Mr. Darcy pointed at the blonde, much to his surprise. “But that being said, you’re all in luck, because the test materials will only be from this semester. You don’t have to worry about the stuff we learned in the fall.” He reassured everyone. “You’re the best, Mr. D!” Matt shouted, everyone cheering “Mr. D!” in agreement. “Thank you, thank you. I try to make this class not suck.” The teacher laughed. “It really has been a pleasure teaching all of you and I know you’re all going to have bright futures in college.” “Yikes, college sounds like a lifetime away for me.” Kendall admitted, Jared and Matt nodding in agreement. The three were the only sophomores in their class.

Lunch was relaxing for Kendall. He was with Sophia and Carly. Matt had to leave early for his last swim meet, while Jared and Fanny were off somewhere else, and Chloe and Megan were off gossiping with their friends. “So how was your day so far? Sophia and Carly looked at Kendall. “It was a lot of final review and stuff. How about you guys?” “Well, we have like two classes, so those two, final review, and then World History, just talking about our final paper. P.E. was great though. We played dodgeball.” Carly broke out into laughter. “Wait, what’s so funny?” Kendall was startled by her sudden outburst. “Well, we played dodgeball, and Yubin was on the other team. I could have sworn, everyone, even her own teammates, threw their balls at her. It was hilarious.” She started tearing up from laughing so much. “So you can say that Yubin took a lot of balls to the face?” Sophia and Kendall laughed at his joke, while Carly just stared at them, unsure of how to feel about Kendall’s joke. “You could’ve done better than that.” Fanny said, walking up to the group with Jared. “Seriously? Just balls to the face? I know you like monkeys, Kendall, but that doesn’t mean you need to stoop to their level of intelligence when it comes to cracking a good joke.” He scoffed sarcastically. “And that, babe, is satire. I think?” He turned to Jared, Fanny himself not quite certain on the topic. The two were discussing the Tortilla Curtain and what was satire. “Oh, that’s not satire either.” Carly corrected him. “It’s basically like irony meets sarcasm and it could be like parody at times. A good example is making a spoof on Dora the Explorer, but changing her name from Dora to Liberty, and then making it about jumping the border because she’s Mexican.” “Oh, so satire can be racism?” Jared was still unsure of the definition. “Oh, no! I’m so sorry, that came out really wrong.” Carly shook her head, ashamed of her own example. “Liberty the Border-Hopper. I love it. Can her partner be a frog or a rabbit? They could be named Hops!” Fanny grinned goofily, amused at this idea. “Oh, shush, Fanny.” Carly and Sophia shook their heads. “Just Google it, Jared.” Sophia suggested.

“Okay, has any group finished their movie projects?” Kawaguchi-sensei glared at everyone. Sharquiqui began to raise her hand, only to be shushed by the impatient teacher. “Uh, we’ll be done by Friday.” Fanny promised. “Good, Chiang-san. Everyone else? Are you guys almost done, or have you all just been screwing around?” He shot everyone daggers with his eyes. The room went silent, much to the surprise of Kendall’s group. “Wait, are we the only people who took this seriously?” The brunette looked at his teammates. “Well, it’s hard not to when we have a theatre person.” Megan frowned. “I know, right? My team is so lucky to have me!” Yubin boasted loudly, overhearing what Megan had said. “No, they aren’t. We honestly would have rather been a team of four than a team of five with you.” One of their classmates, Brian Liu, frowned. He had the misfortune of being stuck with Yubin, mostly because Kawaguchi-sensei forced him and his teammates to take her in. “How about your team, Gomez-san?” Kawaguchi-sensei stared at him. “Uh, well we’re done with the script and we started filming this week.” He started. “Wow, everyone, look at Chiang-san’s group. They are getting an A, if they turn their project in on Friday as they promised. You all, you need to catch up. I gave you half the semester to work on this.”

“Kendall! Wait up!” Sophia noticed Megan and Kendall and ran up to them. The three of them lived relatively within a few blocks of each other. “Want to walk back together?” She suggested. “Sure!” Megan agreed. The Skye siblings were both unaware of Sophia’s feelings for Kendall still. “I’m so glad that he’s going to give us an A.” The Thai girl smiled, referring to the movie project. “If we get over a 94% in the class, we get to skip the final, so I’m down for that!” Megan agreed. “Ooh! Ben and Jerry’s!” Megan pointed out. “Can we go?” She grinned excitedly. “Sure.” Kendall chuckled. “Want to join us, Sophia?” “Yeah, why not? It’s a Wednesday. We all could use a pick me up.” She laughed. After getting their ice cream, the three sat outside of the store, and were talking. “Oh, crap. I totally forgot, but Chloe wanted to hang out later. I need to go back home and grab some stuff.” Megan got her bag and took off. “I’ll see you guys later!” She shouted, running off.

“So, what are you taking next year?” Sophia asked Kendall. “I’m taking English 3 AP, Physics AP, Calc AP, J3, Varsity Soccer, and Astrophysics.” He listed off. “Oh, nice! I’m taking Calc AP, J3, Chem AP, Physics, English 3, and Astrophysics!” Sophia responded. “Wait, we could have three classes together. That’s awesome!” Kendall grinned. “Since there’s only one J3 class, and then Calc AP, there’s two, and for Astrophysics, it’s only one, so guaranteed, we have two classes together off the bat.” He listed off. “Why didn’t you take English 3 AP?” He looked at her, surprised. “English isn’t my strong suit. I’m not a good writer.” She chuckled. She only took English 2 Honors for the sake of taking more Honors classes, not because it was her interest.  “Well, I’m not  good at reading or writing either, but I’ve started with English Honors, so I figured I’ll keep it going. Stick it out.” Kendall laughed. “You’re a brave soul, Kendall Skye.” Sophia shook her head in admiration. “But do you have any more homework for the rest of the day?” He looked at her. “Nah. I worked on the cheat sheet for Chem throughout the semester with Fanny because his friends told him about that. Oh, and Fanny and I finished the portfolio early, so we’re good on that. And then for Pre-Calc, we have been doing final review, and then World History, just the final paper, which will be pretty straightforward.” Sophia was taking Chemistry, English, and Pre-Calc for her honors classes, so she had a relatively easy time with her schedule due to not taking a sport, as opposed to Kendall, who took three honors classes with a sport. “You’ll become a great doctor one day, Sophia. The way you handled doing the script, and how you organize delegating the tasks, it was really epic.” He admitted. “Thanks. You’re a hard worker too. You really are a team player in how you work. It’s really admirable.” She looked back at him. “Oh, your ice cream, Kendall!” She pointed at his hand. At this point, his right hand was drowning in Chunky Monkey ice cream. “Aw, crap.” He growled, getting up. The brunette quickly discarded the cone and started wiping off his hand. “I need a sink.” He sighed; his hand, while dry, was still unpleasantly sticky.

Sky Bird: Chapter 18

“Thank god we’re almost finished.” Fanny groaned in relief. There were only a couple of scenes left in the movie project. Kendall’s movie group was currently at the Malibu Beach Inn, where they filmed a scene involving Kendall and Sophia’s characters; Thaimee and Gregory were supposed to be on a date on the beach in this scene. At this point, all that was left were the scenes with Fanny’s character, which he insisted he could film on his own with the help of Chloe, just so that nobody else had to waste any more time. “Good work on the last scene, Kendall.” Sophia smiled at the brunette. “Thanks.” The brunette was still slightly jet lagged, so he was just trying not to fall asleep. “Okay, so here’s the big scene. You two are going to kiss.” Fanny looked like he was either trying to contain his own vomit or laughter as Sophia and Kendall looked at him in horror. “Wait, why am I kissing him?” Sophia glared at Fanny. “That wasn’t in the script we wrote!” “Suck it up. I’m the director, and these are changes I made to improve the story.” He winked at her. Even though he was put off by Kendall, Fanny still wanted Sophia to have a shot at a relationship with the boy she had a crush on: in short, he put his friendship with Sophia before his detest for Kendall. “Can we at least fake it? You know, angle the camera.” Sophia suggested, not wanting Kendall to think that this is what she wanted. “Okay, fine. I can be a reasonable dictator. I mean, director.” He rolled his eyes, getting back behind his tripod. “That was really sneaky of you, Fanny.” Carly whispered to him. “Well, what a girl wants, a girl gets.” He chuckled back at her.”Okay, and let’s start filming now! 4, 3, 2.”

Kendall and Sophia stood in the water, side by side. Sophia reached over and grabbed his hand. What is this I’m feeling? My heart’s racing? The brunette felt confused. Sophia’s hand was small, soft, and warm. “Thailand ni  kaeritakunai. Edward-kun to isshouni koko ni sunmitain.” Sophia looked at him. “Demo Thaimee-chan no uchi wa Thailand no naka ni desu ne? Soshite, boku no uchi wa California no naka ni. Dakara, kore was watashitachi no saigo no deeto.” He whispered, looking into her eyes. For some reason, Kendall was blushing. He could feel his face turning red as he got closer to Sophia. “Kono mama de zutto oboette iru.” Sophia whispered as they pushed their faces together. “Cut!” Fanny screamed. The two quickly pulled their faces away from each other. Unknown to Kendall, Sophia felt every bit as flustered as he did about this situation. “Okay, let me re-angle the camera, and then we can finish the scene.” The Chinese boy chuckled. He could tell from Kendall’s body language that he was starting to reciprocate Sophia’s feelings. But it will still take a little bit more time for the brunette to realize this himself. Regardless, Fanny enjoyed playing cupid.

“Hey! Wait for me!” Kendall was back in the flower fields. The girl in the white dress giggled as she ran into the woods. “Hold on!” He grunted, running into the forest, just inches behind her. “Come over here! Follow me, Kendall!” She chanted, going deeper and deeper into the woods. Kendall could see the contours of her face, but couldn’t quite recognize her from behind. She had a very small face with slim cheeks. “Kendall!” The girl called in an almost sing-song tone. She seemed to be mocking him at this point. “We’re here!” She stopped. The brunette took a second to catch his breath before looking up. They were at a clearing in the woods. Sunlight made its way through the wholes in the trees. “Who are you?” The brunette panted, winded from the chase. “You don’t recognize me? That’s a shame, Kendall.” The girl giggled, as she stepped into the center of the clearing. “It’s me.” She turned around. Unfortunately, Kendall didn’t quite get to see her face. Not yet, anyways.

“Wake up! Wake up, you idiot!” Kendall had fallen asleep on the car ride back home. The only reason why he managed to wake up was because Megan was kicking him in the shins. “Ouch.” He opened his eyes, only to see her, growling at him. “Get up. Fanny needs to go home.” She tugged at his arm. “Ouch, okay.” He got off. “Later!” Fanny waved, as his Tesla took off. “I get that you’re jet lagged, but that was just lame. Get it together.” Megan shook her head, walking up the stairs. But the boy was not thinking about her words as he followed her back to the apartment. He was thinking about the dream he had to wake up from just now. The girl, he saw her again. She was always just a few seconds away before somebody would inconveniently wake him up. It was frustrating. Maybe it was a metaphor for his love life? Always one second away, and then somebody else has to ruin it. Granted, in his real life, he never necessarily got that close to being in a relationship. There were his hopes with Carly, only just to realize how incompatible they would be as more than friends. At this point, the brunette just felt like he needed to focus on getting good grades. Relationships could wait for later.

“How was filming, honey?” A small Asian lady in her 40s, Mrs. Puckchareon, greeted her daughter. “It was fun! We went to the beach today.” Sophia explained. “Was rocket guy there?” Jesse looked at the two. “Yes. He was there.” “Rocket guy?” Mrs. Puckchareon was confused. “Oh. Kendall.” Sophia looked at her mother. “Oh, Kendall Skye? The boy in your English and Japanese classes, right?” She had met him in passing once. “Why’s he rocket guy?” “He loves aerospace engineering and rockets, so Jesse likes to call him that.” “Oh, okay, well that makes sense. Anyways, Sophia, I have to go back to Mrs. Ahn’s flower shop. I need to take inventory for tomorrow because we have a lot of orders coming in. It’s almost prom season and I know that everyone is going to want flowers.” Her mother grabbed her coat and headed off. Mrs. Puckchareon was the head of the PTA, so she was directly in charge of organizing the school’s dances every year. “Bye, mom!” Sophia waved. “I’ll take care of Jesse while you’re away!” “So what’s for dinner, Soph?” Jesse looked up at her. “Hmm… let’s go out for today.” She smiled. “It’s a Monday, we deserve it.” “Alright, where?” “How about Lemon Tree?” Sophia was referring to Lemon Tree Kids & Family Restaurant, a Korean-Italian place in Koreatown, close to where they lived. “Okay!” He grinned as they got up and started to talk there.

“Wait, so he tried to make you guys kiss?” Jesse laughed. “Yeah. Fanny thought it would be funny to rewrite the scene without telling me. Typical Fanny.” Sophia shook her head. “Fanny is hilarious. I love Fanny!” Jesse laughed. Out of all of Sophia’s friends who Jesse had met, Fanny was the only one Jesse never made fun of or called a funny name. Jesse called Carly “boring girl” and Kendall “rocket guy.” “He’s the best. Making you make out with rocket guy!” Jesse was trying not to fall out of his chair at this point. “Ugh, shut up, Jesse.” Sophia slid down her chair, embarrased. “What? It’s not like you like rocket guy, do you?” Jesse eyed his embarrassed sister. There was an awkward silence. “Oh. Fanny knew?” “Yeah, he did.” “Ooh, he’s evil! I like it.” Jesse gained a newfound appreciation and admiration for Fanny and his cunning ways.

At the Skye apartment, there was a knocking at the door. “Who is it?” Kendall half-awake, walked up to the door. “It’s me, Chloe.” She stated in a grumpy tone. “Oh.” He opened to door. The girl looked like a zombie. “Jet lag has been good to you too, I see.” The brunette noted the dark rings around her bloodshot eyes and the perpetual frown glued to her face. “Yup. Megan! Hurry up! I want food!” She whined. “Coming!” Megan shouted back, walking over. The two had made dinner plans because they wanted to get back into their usual routine and overcome their jet lag together. “How was Hong Kong?” Kendall tried to make small talk with her. “Good. How was Japan?” “Good.” Their conversation was short and awkward, just like their general relationship. The female brunette dragged her feet over to the door, looking equally exhausted. “Okay, let’s go.” The two walked off, looking like a pair of zombies. “Are those two going to be okay?” Gil peeked over Kendall’s shoulder. “Yeah.” “Ouch!” Chloe walked into a wall downstairs. “My face!” “Well, maybe. Thank god we have the Find My iPhone app on our phones. At least we can track her if anything goes wrong.” Kendall reassured his terrified little brother. “Alright then.” He yawned, walking back inside.

Sky Bird: Chapter 17

“Goodbye, Tokyo.” It was a few days later, and the Skyes were already taking the Shinkansen over to Aomori up north. “If Fanny doesn’t appreciate this, I swear to god.” Megan grumbled, referring to the three large bags she had to haul onto the train. “If he doesn’t, just burn the clothes!” Gil sniggered maniacally. “It’s always the youngest sibling who becomes the most sociopathic, isn’t it?” Megan glared at him. “But you do bring up a good point. Want to help me burn them if he doesn’t like them?” “Sure thing, sis.” “Back on the Shinkansen we go.” Kendall sighed as the train took off. It was going to be at least another few hours before they arrived at Aomori. “I can’t wait for you guys to try the apples. My grandmother, she grows them in her backyard, and Aomori apples are very special.” Mrs. Skye excitedly explained to them. Kendall was only half listening at this point; he kept dreaming about the same girl, over and over again. And each time he almost caught up to her, the dream was over. Who was she? The brunette thought to himself, lost in thought. She sounded familiar, but he couldn’t quite place where he had heard her voice from before.

“Here we are! Welcome to Aomori!” The city was lush with trees. Unfortunately, the cherry blossom season was not quite there yet, so they were bare, but just imagining them covered in the pink blossoms, it must be a sight to behold. “Alright, let’s go to visit your great grandparents.” Mrs. Skye ushered her children, still trying to meet their schedule. The five made their way to a taxi, which took them to a large apartment complex. “Grandma, we’re here!” Mrs. Skye chirped into the door bell’s speaker. “Oh. Coming!” After a few minutes, a small old Japanese woman came out of the elevator, opened the glass door, and greeted the family. “Hi! Nice to meet you all!” She hugged each of them. “Hajimemashite.” Kendall and Megan chirped, much to their great grandma’s surprise and delight. “Arisa, komodotachi wa nihongo wo oshietta?” She looked at her granddaughter, amazed that her great grandchildren could speak Japanese. “Kendall to Meganshika.” Mrs. Skye responded, explaining that only Megan and Kendall knew. “Sugoi!” She smiled. “Hajimemashite. Watashi no namae wa Isogai Mayumi desu.” She bowed. “Uh, can somebody please translate for the two of us who can’t speak Japanese?” Gil looked up at his father, and then back at his siblings, mother, and great grandmother. “Oh, sorry. My name is Mayumi Isogai. Christian, you’ve grown up so much since I last saw you! I haven’t seen either of you since your wedding!” She smiled. “And now you have three beautiful children.”

Gil and Megan were eagerly playing with Mayumi’s dog, a pomeranian named Dango, while Kendall, his parents, and Mayumi were sitting together. “So you’re the eldest, right?” She looked at him. “Yes. I’m currently 16 years old.” “Oh, that’s a good age. Alissa has told me a lot about you.” She explained. “She told me about how her son, Kendall, was such a hard worker, and so talented.” He was surprised to hear that from her. “Mom, dad! You need to check out what Dango is doing!” Megan ran in excitedly. “Oh, hold on, we’ll be right back.” His parents left the living room. “Who is the girl?” Mayumi turned to Kendall. “What?” “I can read it on your face. You’re thinking about somebody. Is it a girl? Or a boy?” She pressed, curious. “It’s a girl. But the thing is, I don’t quite know her name. You see, she appeared in my dreams, and I can’t stop thinking about her.” He started. “I don’t know what she looks like. But there was something about her voice that I remembered.” “Young love is a beautiful thing. I met your great grandfather when I was around your age. But then again, things were a lot different back then. That was almost 90 years ago.” She laughed. “But this girl, when you finally get to meet her, I’m sure she will be the luckiest girl alive, to have a boyfriend like you.”

Two days passed by really quickly. The Skyes were back at Haneda Airport and getting ready to take off for LAX again. “Oh, jet lag is going to be a bitch.” Kendall groaned as he got into his plane seat. “Well, it could be worse. You could have somebody using your shoulder as a resting pad.” Gil yawned, leaning onto his brother’s shoulder. “And I thought Fanny was gay.” Megan rolled her eyes at the two. “Shut up, Meg.” The two chanted in unison before laughing as she just continued to ignore them. Their sister was just sad that she had to return to tests and papers right after spring break, and it was stressing her out. “I guess I can study on the plane.” She thought, grabbing her textbooks. “Goodbye, Japan!” Kendall and Gil waved, as the plane took off. In the older brunette’s head, he just thought about what Mayumi said to him. Whoever that girl is, he hoped to find her. Not because he was in any rush to get married or settle down, but more because he wanted to be able to experience what it was like to be in a relationship for once in his life; he was the only one out of his friends who never dated before. Even Gil and Megan had been in relationships before he had. Kendall knew that finding a girlfriend had nothing to do with being an aerospace engineer. But he did want to start a family one day, and he needed experience in knowing how to treat somebody he loves.

Arriving back at the apartment, Kendall felt bittersweet. On one hand, home, sweet home. But on the other, he felt like he left a part of himself back in Japan. It was a very conflicted sensation. He had never left the country before, and he had enjoyed it thoroughly. It was back to reality for him. “Thank god! I just finished my paper!” Megan grinned triumphantly. She was able to finish almost all of her remaining assignments. “I’m just glad I don’t have any homework assigned to me.” Kendall grinned smugly. “Shut up. We can’t all be like you, Kendall.” She rolled her eyes, retiring to her room. “Well, I need to study for American History. We have a test coming up.” Gil growled, grabbing his textbooks from his backpack. And just like that, their vacation had ended. It was time to go back to being a student. “Ugh! I’m so jet lagged right now.” Fanny messaged their group chat. Everyone was getting back to America, one by one. “How were your vacations?” Carly, the only one who didn’t leave the country, was eager to hear about them. “A lot of fun! We’ll talk more in person, Carl.” Fanny sent back. “Ugh, this jet lag is killing me.” Sophia sent them. “But yeah, I’ll tell you about it later!” “Alright. I can’t wait!” She messaged back, eager to hear more. “See you guys on Monday!”

Sky Bird: Chapter 16

“Wow, it’s finally spring break!” It was Friday, fifth period. “What are your plans?” Sophia looked at her friends. “Well, I’m going to be teaching a course at Stanford on plankton.” Sharquiqui started. “And it’s going to be some nasty ass shit. Seriously, you’d think that plankton are not gross, but do not get me going on this topic. Somebody else, please cut me off.” “Well I’m going to Hong Kong to visit some family!” Fanny grinned. “Nice! I’m going to be spending time with my family.” Carly smiled. “My mom needs help around the shop, so I’m going to be doing that.” Carly’s mom was a very popular florist in Santa Monica. “My brother and I are going to be in Thailand.” Sophia smiled. “And what about you two?” Everyone turned to the Skye siblings. “We’re going to Japan!” Megan grinned victoriously. “Oh right! Visiting some family?” Fanny was interested. “Yup! I can’t wait!” Kendall completely forgot about their trip. Time was flying by so fast that he didn’t realize that this was the week before spring break.

“I’m so excited!” The three Skye siblings were sitting in the back of a large cab with their luggages. They were with their parents on their way to LAX International Terminal. Their excitement completely masked the taxi’s stench of plastic and burnt cigarettes. “We’re here!” Mrs. Skye looked at her three children. “I can’t wait to introduce you to my grandma!” Surprisingly enough, Mrs. Skye’s grandmother, a Japanese woman, was still alive. She actually lived in American for a little while, having moved there with her daughter at first, only to move back and settle in Aomori. “So we’ll spend one day in Osaka, three days in Tokyo, then two days in Aoyama with your great grandma, and then the last day, we will just go back to Tokyo to come back home.” She listed their schedule for the week. “I can’t wait! Mountains and mountains of takoyaki, here I come!” Gil kicked his feet up in excitement.

The airplane ride to Tokyo was one of the longest Kendall had ever experienced. As fun as it was to be in the air, he was surprised to find out that he managed to watch three movies, get in a nap, and only then, hear the pilot announce that the plane was descending. “Attention, passengers. Please prepare for our initial descent into Haneda Airport. At this time, please put your seats back to their original position, buckle your seat belts, and put away any portable electronic items. Thank you for flying with us.” “Japan!” Gil pointed out of his window as Megan and Kendall peeked over their shoulders. It was beautiful. Fields of pure green, large pools of water, reflecting the bright blue sky. It was a completely different feeling from Asia, where simple nature really embodied the landscape.

“This is so much cooler than LAX!” The Skye family was walking down a completely white, tiled hallway in Haneda Airport. It felt futuristic compared to what they were used to. The monochromatic and modern aesthetic of the airport alone was just a reminder that they weren’t in California anymore. “I can’t right now. This is amazing. I am so proud to be a quarter Japanese.” Megan was astonished by the design. “Okay, guys, we have to get going. We need to take the Shinkansen to Osaka!” Mrs. Skye urged her awestruck children. “Mom, dad, why aren’t you guys amazed by this?” Gil looked at the two. “Well, because we visited quite often before we had you guys. And we even got married in Japan. So it’s somewhere we don’t get too touristy around.” Mr. Skye admitted. “Correction. We had a wedding in California, and then another wedding here.” Mrs. Skye giggled. “Right. Those were the days.” Mr. Skye laughed.

“This is just unreal!” Kendall sighed to himself. They were on the Shinkansen, the high speed magnet train, shooting through all of Japan to get to Osaka, which was the southernmost part of the main island. The train was as fast, if not twice as fast, as a speeding bullet, as they could only catch glimpses of buildings, mountains, and fields as they sped right past them. “We should be approaching Osaka by the next hour or so.” Mrs. Skye was looking at her watch, not wanting them to fall behind their schedule. As a bakery manager, she was always stressed by meeting or making deadlines. “Calm down, honey. Even if we’re late, we can just find new things to do.” Mr. Skye reassured. “Well, improvisation will be up to you then. I like to follow a strict schedule.” She sighed, crossing her arms. “You’d think that would be the other way around, given that I’m the accountant.” Their father laughed.

“Wow!” The five of them had finally checked into their hotel room; because Mr. and Mrs. Skye were members of the Marriott Rewards program, they got a nice suite in the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel for them to stay in for the night before they headed back up to Tokyo.  The building was a glass paneled skyscraper located just off the Osaka Municipal Museum of Fine Art and the Tennoji Zoo. “So your mother and I will share a room, and then Gil and Kendall will share a bed, while I get my own?” Megan counted out the three beds in the suite. Their suite was a lot nicer than their apartment, being decorated with white walls and modern decor. The windows looked out onto the city. “Yeah, it looks that way.” Kendall nodded. Sharing a bed with Gil was expected at this point. “So let’s get out and grab some food!” Mr. Skye looked at everyone excitedly. The five made their way to the streets of Osaka. Buildings with large, lit-up signs covered the area, as a large river ran through them. Food stalls and restaurants as far as the eye can see, littered the first floors of every structure. You could definitely never starve in Osaka,

Okonomiyaki, takoyaki, taiyaki, yakitori, melon pan, so many different kinds of Japanese snack foods were being harvested between the three Skye siblings, who were eager to reconnect with their Japanese heritage: more accurately, they have not eaten since they got off the plane, and were really hungry. But that was quickly fixed after about their fifth helping to takoyaki. “So what now?” Gil looked at Megan and Kendall, unsure of what to do. “Hm, let’s go to the castle? Mom and dad said to meet them back at the hotel after dinner.” Kendall suggested, looking at the sightseeing pamphlet that he received from the hotel. “Alright, sounds good.” The three headed off to Osaka Castle. The structure had white, stone walls and blue tiled roofs covering each floor of the building. “So this is a Japanese castle?” Gil was not quite sure how to react. “Honestly, there are bigger houses in Beverly Hills now, but considering the technology that they had back then, this was pretty impressive for that period, and just the fact that the castle is still up and standing now, again, we have to consider those things.” Kendall admitted, trying to convince himself that the castle was something of a wonder.

“Well, now what?” Megan looked at her brothers. They had eaten their way through the city, they have seen the castle, and the only possible thing left to do was go to Universal Studios in Osaka, but why would they when there’s one back home? “Let’s just walk around the city.” Kendall suggested. It was only dawning on the three that they were alone in a completely new country. “Hmmm… I know! Let’s play Pokemon Go!” Gil pulled out his cellphone. “Oh my god, of course you’d want to play that here.” Megan sighed. “Any suggestions on what else we can do?” Kendall looked at her while he took out his own phone. “You… have a point. Hold on, let me get my app started too.” She resigned, opening her cell. Luckily for them, almost all cities in Japan offered free city-wide wi-fi, so connecting and playing the game was possible without data. “Ooh! Look! A Farfetch’d!” Gil pointed excitedly, running off. “Hold on! Wait for me!” Megan screamed, sprinting after him. “Guys, I’m not a runner!” Kendall groaned, chasing the two. “We better not tell mom and dad about this!”

“So, did you guys have a lot of fun?” Mr. and Mrs. Skye were reunited with their children at a local teppenyaki restaurant. “Yup! I’m actually surprised by how much exercising we got done just going around the city!” Kendall grinned, laughing internally at his own omission of them playing Pokemon Go. “Well, that’s good! I hope you guys really got to explore everything.” Mrs. Skye smiled, happy that her children were appreciating her mother’s home country. “I can’t wait for us to go to Tokyo, though. I promised Fanny I’d get him a ton of stuff from Harajuku. He already Venmo’d me the money for it.” Megan laughed. “I’m just glad that I caught a-” Gil started before he realized he was not supposed to mention their afternoon activities. “A real love for the Japanese culture.” He finished, proud of his own save. “I’m so glad.” Their mother bought his lie, oblivious that Gil was originally going to say “a ton of rare Pokemon.”

The family retired to their hotel, and got ready for the night. Unfortunately, they had to leave Osaka tomorrow first thing at sunrise, which in Japan, begins at 4-5am, to make it to Tokyo. “Good night, Gil.” Kendall whispered to his little brother. “Goodnight, Kendall.” They drifted off to sleep with almost no effort. “Kendall?” The brunette opened his eyes. He was in a field of flowers. “Where the hell am I?” He looked around. He saw a slim figure with long black hair, wearing a flowing white dress, and a large white sun hat, standing in the distance from him. He couldn’t quite make out her face from where he was. “Kendall!” She called. That voice? It sounds so familiar. But who’s is it? He was perplexed. But her voice, it made his heart beat faster. He could feel the metaphorical butterflies in his stomach, telling him to be nervous. The girl laughed and started running off. “Wait for me!” Kendall screamed, getting up and running after her. “Ugh…” The brunette opened his eyes to the sound of Megan’s Taylor Swift alarm, which was blasting through the suite. That was a strange dream he had. But who was the girl?

Sky Bird: Chapter 15

“Okay, are you guys ready?” It was Monday afternoon, and Kendall, Megan, Sophia, Carly, and Fanny were in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, filming some of the scenes of their movie project. Sophia was wearing an elaborate chut thai, which is an outfit in Thai culture made of a variety of cloths and sashes. “Yes! Can we please hurry? I borrowed this from my grandma and I don’t want to ruin it!” Sophia was nervous for several reasons; she was wearing a family heirloom in public and she hated being recorded. “Okay! 4, 3, 2.” Fanny turned on the camera. The scene was that Sophia was checking into her hotel room, and Megan and Kendall were going to come across her; Fanny’s character in the movie, his father owned the hotel, while Kendall and Megan were supposedly exploring it out of curiosity. “Oniichan! Sono hito wa Ngam Thaimee-samadesu, ne?” Megan looked at her brother excitedly. “Hontou ni Ngam Thaimee-sama, da!” Kendall tried to act as surprised as he could; acting unfortunately was not one of his strong suits. Essentially, their exchange translated to them being excited about seeing Thaimee Ngam, Sophia’s character. “Ngam-sama! Hajimemashite! Watashi wa Howards Elenadesu!” Megan bowed as she introduced herself; her character was named Elena Howards. “Hajimemashite. Boku wa Howards Gregorydesu. Elena-chan wa boku no imouto-chan.” Kendall, going by the name of Gregory Howards, introduced himself as Elena’s older brother. “Alright. Looks like we’re good here.” Fanny smiled. “Good job, you guys! And Sophia, you are killing it in that outfit!” Carly cheered her teammates on.

“Ugh, thank god! I can wear pants again.” Sophia sighed in relief, finally changed. They finished filming all of her scenes wearing the chut thai that day, so that they can return her outfit. “You did wonderful, Sophia!” Carly smiled. “Yeah, you and Megan honestly should apply for Advanced Theatre Arts.” Fanny agreed. “Kendall, on the other hand…” He looked over at the other male. “Shut up. I’m not an actor and I never will be.” “It’s okay, Kendall. You had to have lines in the movie, so you’re doing your best. Thank god he’s not grading on acting ability.” Fanny sighed in relief. “That’s probably the nicest thing he’s ever said to you!” Megan laughed at Kendall. “It’s sad because it’s true.” The Chinese boy snickered in agreement. “Ugh, you’re lucky you’re dating my best friend.” Kendall crossed his arms, ignoring all urges to punch him in the face. “Alright, so we’re done for filming today. I’m going to go do edits, but everyone, keep up the good work!” Fanny grinned, grabbing his tripod and heading to his car.

“I’m feeling so good about our project.” Megan looked at Kendall as he was driving the two siblings back home. “Yeah, we better not get an F after all the work we put into this.” Kendall, Megan, Sophia, and Carly all put in a lot of working doing the script while Fanny was in charge of editing and recording. “Well the plot is good, we all worked on the script to make sure that we had all of the grammars, and I think we are all doing a good job.” Megan admitted. “There isn’t a weak link in our group, and that’s a lot better than my English group.” She chuckled; they were studying the Italian Renaissance currently and had to do so in groups. Unfortunately for her, Megan was stuck in a group not only without Chloe, but also with people who have been consistently poor writers in the class. “But you just need to learn to roll with the punches, right?” She looked at Kendall, who was probably an expert at that. “Yup. Life might deal you a crappy hand, but you just need to learn how to play it right.”

“Kendall!” Mrs. Skye called out from the hallway. “Yes, mom?” The brunette walked over to his parents’ room. It was already 9pm. “Can you do us a favor?” “Sure, what’s up?” “Your mom forgot to buy groceries for breakfast tomorrow. Can you please get those for us?” Mr. Skye called out. “Okay, sounds good.” The 16 year old grabbed his keys and walked out the the apartment. Getting into his car, the brunette got out his phone and typed in the nearest grocery store. “Ralph’s? Okay. Let’s go there.” Pulling his car out of the apartment garage, he left for the store. “Alright,let’s just pull up, and… we’re parked.” The brunette stationed his car in the parking area, and grabbed a grocery cart. “Alright, so eggs, bacon, bread, milk.” He listed off, walking through the sliding doors. “Kendall?” The brunette looked up to see Sophia, who was with a small boy, no older than 7 years old. “Sophia! And who is this?” The brunette referred to her companion. “Hi, Kendall! This is my little brother, Jesse.” “Hi. You’re that rocket guy, right?” He looked up. “Oh yeah, I am.” The brunette chuckled. “What are you doing here so late?” The Thai girl was perplexed to see him here. “I was getting groceries for breakfast. My mom forgot to grab them so I figured I’d help her out.” “Oh, I see. Jesse has to contribute to his school’s bake sale, and he forgot about it, so we’re here grabbing some cake mix for that.” “That sounds like fun. I’ll see you tomorrow?” Kendall looked at her. “Yup. See you!” “Have fun baking!” “Later, rocker guy!” The two waved as they walked back to Sophia’s house.

“Okay, that should cover everything.” Kendall was proud of himself. He managed to grab everything for breakfast, and he was already back in the apartment and just finished putting everything away. “Kendall, are you going to sleep soon?” A drowsy Gil yawned. Unfortunately, the kitchen was directly connected to their room. “Yeah, I’m going to bed now.” The brunette stretched his arms as he walked over to their shared room. “Good night, big bro.” Gil closed his eyes. “Good night, Gil.” Kendall went to bed as well. Today felt like it went by too quickly. Then again, soccer season was officially over, and his classes were a blur, with no tests or particularly challenging projects presenting themselves as hurdles to him. It looks like things are starting to look up for me. Kendall thought to himself sleepily. The best moments in life were the ones that we want to last longer. Drifting off to another dream, the brunette pondered how many more times he will experience that sensation. That wish for life to go just a little bit slower, so that he can savor these memories.

Everyone was lined up at the graveyard, dressed in all black. Surprisingly enough, it was a sunny day with clear blue skies and not a cloud in sight. Exactly the way Kendall’s grandfather would have preferred it to be. Kendall was dreaming about his grandpa’s funeral. “We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Darby Skye. Darby was a kind man. He served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force and was a celebrated aerospace engineer. He will be dearly missed. Darby will be lived on by his sons, Christian and Eric, and his daughters, Julie and Daphne, and their children.” An 8 year old Kendall sat there in the crowd, feeling numb. His grandfather had just taken him on a plane for the first time ever just a year ago, and then he died. A peaceful death, the nurses said. He went to sleep that night, and just never woke up. But it was fine. He was a widower anyways. Grandma died long before Kendall was born. At least grandpa will have somebody waiting for him on the other side of this. Somebody to welcome him with her warm embrace.

Mr. Skye was taking his father’s death surprisingly well. The father was more concerned about his own children’s feelings, rather than his own. “Everyone dies at some point. But it gives us more of a reason to live. Live for their sake. Live to carry out the hopes and dreams they had for us.” He explained to his three children. “Of course, I feel sad. He’s my dad. But if I were to get hung up and just be constantly sad about him passing away, then he wouldn’t be happy. Neither would my mom be, seeing me like that. I have to keep living my life and making a brighter future for you kids, for their sakes.” Gil and Megan were both trying not to cry still, but Kendall understood where his father was coming from. It’s understandable to have human emotions. It’s expected. But getting too caught up in them, it wouldn’t make the recently lost happy. They can’t just succumb to the downward spiral that is depression. That’s what the older 16 year old Kendall would later be able to vocalize with his advanced vocabulary. At that point in time, he understood the concept, but to the best effect that a 3rd grader could.

Kendall’s grandfather had always been a kind man. Whenever he would visit, Kendall would be excited; his grandfather would tell him about his stories as a pilot, and how exciting it was to be free. To soar like a bird. At first, Kendall was curious about this sensation, having never experienced it himself. But when he finally got to fly on the jet with his grandpa, he finally understood what it meant to be free. The sensation of flying, it was surreal. That feeling in your gut, as if something is pulling you up. Then you can sense the acceleration, as if you are becoming one with the wind. And then when you reach a certain point, your problems are so far below you that you can only think about one thing, and that’s feeling free to explore the world around you. To capture that experience and allow anyone and everyone to feel it, that was his goal. He wanted to help humanity soar in that big blue sky. The first plane he ever builds, Kendall plans to name it “Darby” in honor of his grandpa.

Sky Bird: Chapter 14

“Kendall, can you take care of Gil and Megan? Your father and I have to be at work all day today.” A 10 year old Kendall was with his mother, who looked frantic at this point. They were at the front door of their apartment complex. “Sure, mom.” He smiled, as she thanked him and left. “Kendall, what’s today’s plan?” Gil and Megan walked over to their eldest sibling. “Also, Chloe and I were going to hang out, is that fine? She can have somebody pick me up.” The girl insisted. “Okay, sounds good. Gil, looks like it’s a bro-bonding day.” Kendall grinned at the 8 year old. “Yay! I can’t wait! My big bro is the coolest!” Gil beamed back at him. “You guys are so lame. How am I related to either of you?” Megan shook her head disapprovingly, walking back to their apartment. “Hm… how about we go to the park today?” Kendall suggested. “Sure!” The two headed out. Kendall smiled at Gil. His younger brother was almost the splitting image of him, just two years younger, so just smaller in stature and size. Gil had always looked up to Kendall because he was hardworking, determined, and ambitious. Gil himself took after Megan academically, which is to say getting good grades came naturally to him.

The two brothers were playing on the hills that overlooked Los Angeles, and specifically, climbing trees and hiking the trails. “And that’s how you evolve Feebas, Gil.” Kendall was explaining to his little brother a mechanic in their favorite video game series, Pokemon. “That’s cool and all, Ken, but I need to first catch a Feebas.” Gil rolled his eyes. Feebas, the Pokemon in question was notoriously difficult to catch. “I’ll trade you one.” Kendall offered. “Nah, I don’t need your pity trade.” Gil laughed; he wanted to prove to his older brother that he was capable of capturing the rare Pokemon on his own. “Alright, buddy.” The elder of the two chuckled, ruffling the 8 year old’s hair. “Hey, look! We can see Griffith Observatory!” Gil pointed out the white, dome-shaped building resting on the hills. “Ooh! I love that place!” The observatory was one the places in LA that Kendall loved going to, since it has to do with space traveling, rockets, and in that sense, aerospace engineering. There was a point when Kendall was a 3rd grader when he would beg his parents to take him and his siblings to the observatory every weekend. Everyone except for Kendall was bored of the exhibitions and displays, but the brunette eagerly soaked in all of the knowledge that he could.

It was finally night time, and the two brothers re-joined Megan, who was carrying a small white box, in front of their apartment building. “How was your guys’ day?” Megan looked at her brothers. “It was a lot of fun! We went hiking!” Gil beamed. “That sounds tiring.” She sighed, letting out a loud yawn. “What did you do today with Chloe?” The youngest sibling looked up. “We did each other’s nails, talked about boys, and baked cupcakes with Fanny and Malina.” Megan grinned, referring to the takeout box in her hands. “What kind of cupcakes?” Kendall looked eagerly at her. “None of your beeswax.” Megan stuck her tongue out as she started to walk back into the building. “You better at least share them with mom and dad!” Kendall shouted, as the brothers followed after her. “Of course I am! That’s why I brought them back!” Megan rolled her eyes. “I’m home!” She called, cracking open the door. “Oh, just in time for dinner, Megan!” Mrs. Skye chanted.

“Look, Kendall! I got a Feebas!” Gil grinned eagerly, showing off his Nintendo DS to his older brother. “Nice!” Kendall was impressed by how quickly Gil managed to find one; they only just talked about catching and evolving Feebas that afternoon. “I told you I could do it on my own!” The younger sibling boasted. “What’s all the noise?” Megan groaned, walking into the hallway. “I got a Feebas!” Gil could hardly contain his excitement; he wanted to let the entire world know about his accomplishment. “Oh, cool, I think?” Their sister turned to Kendall. “What’s a Feebas?” She whispered. “It’s a rare Pokemon. Just act impressed.” He shot back. “Oh, that’s amazing! Congratulations!” Megan tried to mask her sarcasm and lack of interest, but luckily for her, Gil was too excited to notice her nonchalant behavior. “This is awesome!” He continued jumping up and down. “Uh, we should probably go to sleep. It’s 10, and mom and dad are already sleeping.” Kendall suggested, not wanting anyone to get in trouble. “Okay.” Gil eagerly got back into his bed. “Good night!”

That was already 8 years ago. Kendall thought to himself. It was probably the last time that he remembered bonding one on one with his little brother. The four boys were making their way back from Catalina, first on the boat to Long Beach, and then from there, on the Metro to Los Angeles. Gil was talking about how much he loved playing Pokemon, and that his favorite Pokemon was Milotic, the evolution to Feebas. “You like Milotic? Isn’t that a really girly Pokemon?” Matt laughed. “But mine is a guy.” Gil argued. “Honestly, you should nickname it Fanny.” The green-eyed brunette teased. “I could dig it. If this Milotic thing is as strong as Gil makes it out to be, then it fits the bill of my boyfriend.” Jared huffed proudly. “Nah, I nicknamed it Aqua, because that means water.” Gil chuckled. Kendall couldn’t believe that his little brother and two best friends were discussing Pokemon right now. And the funniest thing was that Matt actually played himself, so he understood all of the references Gil was making. It was nice to know that his friends and little brother got along so well. Gil was popular in his middle school, being athletic, smart, and just easygoing, but because it was middle school, he hardly ever had a social life. Or at least that Kendall noticed. Sometimes, Kendall worried about Gil. He did not want Gil to ever feel lonely or abandoned by him or Megan, so it was important for Kendall to include his little brother in his own social life from time to time.