"At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one's lost self."
May 30, 2006
"Good Morning!" Michelle called with a smile as she stepped through the front door of Patrick's home. She was dressed in blue jeans, a long sleeve silk blouse with bell sleeves, and a pair of white tennis shoes. The living room looked much cleaner now than before the "guests" had moved in. Books weren't strewn across the floor among other things. The coffee table was clear. Basically, it didn't resemble the bachelor pad it did before.
"Hey, girlfriend," Marle replied coming out of the kitchen with a smile and eyes beaming with glee. For all of them, it was a day to party. "You're here rather early. The party isn't for some time." Marle was wearing a similarly gorgeous outfit. She wore a light-red polo shirt with Cap sleeves with roll-tab, and she wore a pair of blue jeans with brown sandals.
Marle looked around, "And have you seen Patrick? I can't find him anywhere?"
Michelle took a deep breathe through her nose, smelling the undeniable hint of sausage in the air. She sat down on the couch. "He's out. He woke up early to take a stroll like he always does on his birthday."
"Good Morning!" Crono and Lucca chimed together as they walked into the living room. Crono was wearing a blue polo shirt and matching jeans with black tennis shoes. Lucca wore a pull over red shirt with black shorts and currently in white socks.
"What's going on here," Crono asked with a raised eyebrow. His stomach growled, "And is breakfast almost ready?"
Marle smiled softly and kissed her boyfriend good morning. "Almost, Crono. Just a few more minutes."
Lucca looked to her left then right and toward the group. "So has anyone seen Patrick yet. Has he left or something because I can not seem to find him for the life of me. I've been looking a while too."
Everyone turned their heads to Lucca with mischievous grins. "Oh, Lucca! You wanted to sneak out with Patrick this morning? My, my, aren't we daring." Michelle said. She was nudging Lucca slightly with her elbow.
Marle followed suit on Lucca's other side. "Lucca, you never told me you were that type. Why didn't you tell us you wanted some alone time with Patrick. We would have been happy to help."
"What," Lucca cried in her defense, shaking her head furiously. "I just didn't want him to know what I got him for his birthday. It happens to be a very nice gift and I didn't want to spoil it for him." Her face was crimson by this time.
Michelle leaned back into the couch, "Well, he's not here. He'll be gone for a couple more of hours at least."
"Where did he go," Crono asked. "It's his birthday, he should sleep in. I would."
Lucca snickered. "Crono, you sleep in almost everyday. It doesn't have to be your birthday either."
"Exactly," Michelle said in explanation, "it is his birthday. That's the point."
Lucca was as confused as the rest. "Can you explain, Michelle?"
Michelle nodded, images of years ago popping up in her mind. "As far as I can remember, Patrick has always gone out early on his birthday. He would get up around six or seven and just go out. When he was at the orphanage, he would hide himself in or around the building. He just wanted to get away for some reason."
"Why would he want to do something like that," Marle asked; the emotion was evident in her tone.
Michelle shook her head. "No one really knows. Patrick wouldn't say much when he came back. He would just acknowledge that he was out and be done with it. For the first couple of years that I knew him, Miss Ellerbee would get scared each time he did it, but eventually she would just accept it as if it were an everyday thing. It had become a birthday routine. Soon, no one really thought much of it. He always left and always came home."
The room was silent in thought. Michelle couldn't help but feel that she ruined the mood. Man, I had to go and tell them about Patrick's little behavior. Now they're all down. This is no way to treat a good birthday
Michelle then asked with good cheer in her voice. "So, you all have your presents ready? Crono?"
Crono smirked, "I got mine. It's all ready."
Michelle's eyes became cat-like and her lips a small grin, "I hope you didn't get him that magazine subscription you saw at the book stand yesterday."
Crono's cheeks turned red, "Of course not. I got him something better."
Michelle couldn't help herself, "Oh, so you got him videos?"
Lucca smiled while Marle giggled. They had been shocked at what people did at technology and ashamed people could go so far. For Lucca and Marle to see Crono squirm was worth the mentioning.
Crono crossed his arms. "Oh, hush, both of you. You'll see what I got him when he does. What did you get him, Lucca?"
Lucca straightened herself. "It so happens that I typed up some things, which shall rename nameless, and printed them out. There's a good number of pages, and I still need to get some sort of folder or something. How about you, Marle?"
Marle looked down, "I don't have anything yet. I couldn't' think of anything."
Michelle put her arm around her friend's shoulders. "Don't feel bad, Marle, it happens to the best of us. I'm about to head to the store, actually. I always do my shopping and wrapping last minute so Patrick never finds out what he's getting. Why don't we three go the store? Lucca can get what she needs, and I'll help you pick out a gift."
Marle face brightened. "Alright, let's go." She began to count things off on her fingers. "Besides, we have to get a cake, ice cream, drinks, ice cream, candles, party hats, ice cream "
"That's enough ice cream, Marle. Well, what am I supposed to do," Crono whined. "While you're out, what do you expect me to do?"
"Wait," Michelle said simply, "and you can make sure that Patrick gets home and that aliens don't take over the world while we super girls are out. Oh, if someone calling himself 'Vegeta' shows up run far away."
Crono huffed. "In short, you just want me to stay here, right?"
Michelle winked as the girls gathered their things. Michelle and Marle were ready to go. Lucca had to grab her shoes. "You got it. Don't worry. We won't be gone too long."
Marle placed a hand on her boyfriend's cheek. "Don't worry, Crono. The sausage should be done by now. I already made some eggs and toast for you. Enjoy." After a quick kiss from Marle and a smart comment from Lucca, the three girls were out of the house and on their way to shop.
Crono walked into the kitchen to grab a plate with a couple sausage, two pieces of toast, and a deluxe helping of scrambled eggs. He returned to the living room and sat down in front of the television. He grabbed the remote, turning on the TV and began flipping through channels. "That figures .over a hundred channels and nothing on."
The ocean breeze blew through Patrick's short hair as he continued his walk on the beach. He was approaching a man who was lying on the beach. The man had a portable radio which was now playing Sarah Mclachlan's song, Possession.
The walking was a yearly ritual for him; a ritual he never looked forward too. The beginnings of it weren't unexplainable. By far, Patrick could explain what started the mess to begin with. The problem was whether the explanation seemed probable or possible. Was it believable to the slightest degree for those who did not know him?
Patrick was passing the man on the beach. They paid each other no attention except for a silent nod. Both were there for different reasons, but both were there to have their own time.
Patrick's ritual started when he was five on the morning he woke up. Normally a child would feel excited on his birthday, even the orphans he stayed with became ecstatic but not him. On that day, he woke up with a feeling in the pit of his stomach. It felt like he had lost something something important. He felt empty inside. It was the anniversary of the day he was found on side of the road, but for some reason, he woke up like this.
The music was becoming fainter as he walked away from the man. He didn't care much for the song, though he would swear that the lyrics he heard on this day were talking about his life.
When he started the ritual, he would get out of bed and find some time to be alone. Usually, he would end up crying as if mourning some tremendous loss. Some of the orphans thought it had something to do with his past and his parents. Others thought it was something else lying deep within his mind. As far as Patrick Simmons knew, both could be true.
The music had died down by now, nothing more than a memory in Patrick's mind. He had other thoughts to contend with, though. There were things which were more important than a song.
As he got older, another theory surfaced. Perhaps he was just lonely. He was lonely in the beginning of his life, though he had Miss Ellerbee. She wasn't really his mother, but she had to be something close. After Chris and Michelle left the orphanage, he did see them sometimes at school, and in present times, it would be during or after work. Whatever the reason, that feeling was there in his life like some curse.
Not today, though. For the first time in over twenty years, he didn't feel empty on his birthday. He felt whole. He felt more complete. Overall, he felt better ever since Crono, Marle, and Lucca arrived. Since that night, Michelle and now Chris have stopped by more often. He wondered if it was just because of the three he had visiting or other reasons. An image of Lucca's face popped up into his mind's eye again. It had been happening for a while now, more so since the dance several days ago. He couldn't explain why, though. That was another factor why he felt the way he did. It was for those reasons he was out walking today.
He heard a sigh then a child-like voice saying, "If you're thinking they're visiting just for the trio, you can drop that thought right now. They're visiting you as much as they are them."
"Hello again, Kid." The child stood to Patrick's right wearing blue jeans and a black shirt with his usual white tennis shoes. "What is it this time?"
"Just here to help," the child replied as he continued to walk along side Patrick. "You do know that Chris and Michelle are visiting you just as much, right?
He stared straight ahead, not bothering to look at the child. The child did the same. Eyes front and feet forward. Patrick replied. "I guess. I don't see why they didn't before. It was mainly after or during work I saw them before so why now?"
"Think about it," the child said, "before you opened that gate, you were always working on it. At least twice a week you were in SROC for hours researching and conducting experiments. When you weren't at SROC, you were at home exercising, reading books on temporal theories, or doing research on that game. You didn't even get to see Britt but two or four times a month."
"It's called a job," Patrick said. He wasn't sure if that was a reason or just an excuse.
"Maybe it is, but you have to admit that since the trio arrived, you haven't been obsessed in your research. You're living a bit more than you used to. You're shopping with friends; you've visited Britt and Miss Ellerbee a bit more. I would say you finally have a social life." The child smiled and let out a chuckle.
Patrick frowned. "Funny, that's real funny."
"I'm rather serious." The child finally turned his head to face Patrick, his face strangely serious for a supposed eight-year-old. "The time is approaching, Patrick. This day it is the day in which you get a taste of your true power."
Patrick stopped in his tracks. "First it was destiny. Then, it was a day that would be great, frightening, and sad or something. Next, you told me about some power and one of the trio now you tell me to prepare for a day to sample my power."
Patrick turned and nearly yelled at the top of his lungs, "Can you for once not speak in riddles?" The child was not there to hear Patrick's question. Patrick clenched his fists tightly. That subject always aggravated him, especially when the child decided to just disappear without warning.
"Damn!" Patrick yelled to the Pacific. He turned toward his house abruptly and began the three-hour walk back.
"Oh this is so cute," Marle and Michelle said together as they held a giant stuffed panda bear by one arm apiece. Their eyes were stars as they held the stuffed toy, both wanting to hug it, which they did at the same time, crushing the poor thing in their grasp. Lucca had stayed with them the whole time, allowing the two to shop. Besides, for Lucca, it was rather entertaining to watch Marle and her "sister" together. They always did something that was out of the ordinary.
Marle put down the bear after Michelle let go. She sighed in a discontented manner. It wasn't the right one. "The bear is nice, but it's not the gift I had in mind." Michelle had picked out and purchased her gift as soon as the three had entered the mall. Somehow she had conceived the gift idea during the drive and had wasted no time on getting it.
"I need to think," Marle said, placing her right fist under her chin. "There has to be something in this place that would be a nice birthday present. I just need to find it. Hmm."
Michelle placed a comforting hand on Marle's shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze. "Cheer up, girl." She saw that her words didn't have much an impact on the princess. "Tell you what. How about we keep Lucca company while she gets what she needs. In the meantime, you can just browse around and get your mind off this gift business." Michelle gave one of her famous smiles. "How about it?"
Her words seemed to have an effect for Marle gave a small smile and nodded her head. "Sure." Marle's small smile turned wide, and she shot her fist into the air. "Lead the way Lucca." The three girls laughed.
Just as Lucca started the trek, she ran into a small child, who was pushed back a few inches. She knelt down to the little boy. "I'm sorry. Are you okay?" In response the child sneezed. Lucca pulled back as fast as she can. The apparent mother of the child took the boy's hand and apologized to Lucca. As fast as she had come, she went on her way, and it was as if she wasn't there to begin with.
As the three strolled through the mall, Lucca brought a question out to the open. "So what does this make him? Twenty-eight right?"
"Yep," Michelle said, "He's finally Chris' age."
"Well there's something new." Marle commented, "so how old are you, Michelle?"
Michelle wagged her finger, "Now that's a secret." After seeing Marle pout, she gave in with a giggle. "Okay, okay. I'm twenty-seven. Chris is a couple of months older than Patrick, and I happen to be six months younger than Patrick."
"Wow," Marle exclaimed, "that's like us."
Michelle raised an eyebrow. "How is that?"
Lucca took control at this point. "Well, Crono is also twenty-eight. He turned that a few months before we got here. I happen to be a month older than Crono is. Marle is a few months younger than he is."
"That's strange," Michelle said.
"What's strange?" Marle asked.
"Well, I saw a few pictures of you guys in a player's guide of Patrick's, and you didn't look nineteen. All of you looked more seventeenish."
"Well, that was a game," Lucca explained.
"True," said Michelle. What do you know. Lucca Kepler is actually older than Patrick. I don't think anyone could tell. Heck, she's older than Crono
After another couple of minutes, the three were in a store which was selling office supplies and equipment for businesses. Lucca was looking through several folders and binders, trying to find the perfect one to contain what she so delicately described as, "A literary work unlike and surpassing any other." Yes, Lucca was still her modest self.
Lucca grabbed a folder. "Too plain." Then, she grabbed a binder. "Too flashy. Confound it all; is there nothing in here that looks professional but still fun? What happened to style?"
"It died when marijuana became illegal, and the hippie population withered," Michelle joked. "Don't worry, Lucca, there's something in here. We'll leave you to your work."
Michelle was going to ask Marle if she wanted to look around, but Marle was already three steps ahead of her. Marle was browsing through different office standard laptops, spreadsheet software, and palm pilots (computerized personal organizers). The laptops Marle recognized. Patrick did have one of his own.
"Hey, what are these," Marle asked pointing to the spreadsheet software.
Michelle took a moment and answered. "Oh, that's just some spreadsheet software." She saw that Marle was pretty much ignorant of what that was so she explained. "It's a program which can help you make graphs and organize information to an eye-friendly manner." Marle nodded her head in understanding and pointed to the palm pilots.
Michelle explained again. "And those are palm pilots. How do I explain this?" She thought for a moment. "It's what they call a PDA or 'Personal Digital Assistant.' It's basically a hand-held computer designed mainly to be an organizer. Some even act as communication devices."
"Where's the keyboard?"
"Good question, my dear Marle. You see that pen-like object on the box?" Marle looked and nodded her head. "That's all you need. The PDA recognizes handwriting and acts as a mouse."
Marle's mouth was a large O. "Oh, so I bet they're pretty useful."
"They are. It's pretty nifty to store numbers and have a place to put your notes and other things." Marle's lips became a wide smile, and she was about to say something when a loud voice filled the store
"Eureka! I found what I was looking for."
The two girls blinked and Marle spoke up. "So I guess you found what you were looking for right, Lucca?"
Lucca veed her fingers. "V is for 'victory.' So, how are you coming along?"
Marle gave a thumb up. "All set here. Let's pay for this stuff and get going." She looked to Michelle with a sheepish grin. "You're going to help me out, right, Michelle? I'm a little short of $300.00."
As Patrick finally got home, he noticed two things which were astray. One, both Michelle's and Chris' cars were parked in the driveway. Two, there didn't seem to be any activity inside. The shades and curtains in the house kept a soul from peeking inside. Something just seemed awry. He quickly shrugged it off believing the trio with Chris and Michelle went for a walk. He approached the door to his house and unlocked the door with his key. He slowly opened the door. The living room was dark and creepy. He walked inside, habitually turning on the light."
"SURPRISE!" came the collective voices of Crono, Marle, Lucca, Michelle, and Chris as they jumped out from various hiding places.
"HOLY" Patrick screamed, jumping back and instinctively coming into a fighting stance. Somehow in the process, he managed to jump outside and land on the edge of the porch. Losing his balance, he fell backward, tumbling down the steps and coming to a halt at the bottom in a daze as he sat on his butt.
The five rushed outside and saw him in the mess he was in. Patrick seemed fine, though dazed and bruised. Nonetheless, Lucca rushed down, trying to help Patrick to his feet while shouting things such as, "Are you alright," or "Say something will you." Soon Chris was there to help, and with Lucca's help, they managed to get Patrick up the stairs to the living room couch. By this time, he had come out of his daze.
"What the hell hit me," he asked rubbing his head.
Lucca smirked, "You silly boy, the ground hit you. Well, that was after you lost your footing, tumbled down some stairs before you hit the ground."
"Oi what a surprise." He began repeating the word "surprise" over several times and realized what had happened. "You guys threw me a party?"
"He knows too much," Chris said.
Michelle followed suit in the tease, but kept her voice serious. "Yes, we'll have to kill him before he can tell others."
Marle's stomach growled. "Kill him later. I want ice cream and cake."
"But we need him to blow out the candles," Crono said before Marle could get to the kitchen. She sighed and went into the kitchen. She came back shortly afterward with a two-layer strawberry cake with white icing and a red icing around the top. There were twenty-eight lit candles stuck through the cake alongside "Happy Birthday, Patrick."
Patrick blinked. He had never had a surprise party before. He stared at the cake. Thoughts ran through his head, especially those of his conversation with the kid earlier that day.
"What are you waiting for? Blow out the candles." Marle may have commanded him, but her voice was one of glee and happiness.
Patrick came out of his trance, quickly apologizing. He took a deep breathe and blew, blowing all the candles in a single gust. Everyone gave a cheer and clapped. Unbeknownst to Patrick, Lucca gave a slight wave of her hand, and all the candles relit.
"What in the world!" Patrick glared at his lone suspect. "Lucca Kepler, you just relit my candles."
Lucca put an innocent smile on her place. "I don't know what you mean, Mr. Patrick."
Patrick growled and blew out the candle. He quickly looked toward Lucca who whistled innocently. Crono cut the cake, and Marle brought out a variety of ice cream. The party went on for several minutes. Cake and ice cream was quickly consumed. Small talk was made, and everyone had fun.
"Time for presents," Michelle cheered. She brought five presents out and placed them in front of Patrick who just stared. "What are you waiting for," she playfully scolded, "Start opening."
Patrick took the first present. It was in the shape of a rectangular box wrapped in white wrapping paper. He tore off the paper the same way a child would and viewed his first present. In front of him was a book entitled 101 Katana Techniques to Show Off to Your Friends.
"Wow," was the only think Patrick could say.
Crono crossed his arms and smiled as if in triumph. "I thought you'd like that. It has a few things you might like, I'm sure."
"I'm sure it does," Patrick replied. "Thanks Crono. Now for number two."
"Mine!" Marle cheered as she shoved a small present wrapped in blue wrapping paper into his hands. Patrick couldn't help but smile at the woman's energy. Patrick opened the present a bit more gently this time. It was a feeling he trusted. He unwrapped it completely to find that he now had his very own PDA.
"Excellent," Patrick said. "This will come in handy."
Marle beamed. "I knew you'd like it. I bet you'll find all sorts of uses for it."
Patrick nodded. "I'm sure I will. Thanks Marle."
Lucca handed Patrick an oddly shaped present wrapped in red wrapping paper. "I guess it's my turn now, eh?" Patrick couldn't help but smile at Lucca as he took her present. He went ahead and unwrapped the paper child-style. What he found confused him and amazed him. It was a black binder which was decorated on the border with blue, red, and white stripes which ran side-by-side. The front of the binder was entitled Temporal Mechanics and Theories by Lucca Kepler. He opened the binder to see a title page and a table of contents. It was a book. She had written a book about 300 pages long.
Lucca found herself smiling sheepishly. "I hope you like it. It's a detailed explanation about time gates and their properties as well as a few temporal theories I've developed over the passed nine years."
Patrick was speechless. "Lucca I I don't know what to say."
Lucca shook her head slightly, trying to hide her blush. "Just say 'thank you' and promise me you'll read it."
Patrick blushed, but didn't bother to hide it. "Well, umm, thanks, Lucca. I'm gonna read this ASAP." For a moment they locked eyes, but that quit when Michelle said, "Just kiss him so he can open my present."
The two quickly broke their gaze while the others had a short laugh. Michelle handed Patrick a small gift bag with the excuse that if he tried to open it, it would become sushi. Patrick reached into the bag and pulled out a small box with labels all round.
"Oh, my God!" He jumped up and hugged Michelle tightly who gasped as her breath was squeezed out. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" He finally let go of Michelle who inhaled deeply to regain the air she quickly lost.
"Hey," Chris finally spoke up, "what did she get you to make you so excited?" Patrick handed him the box. After a quick look over, he nodded and handed the box to the giddy adult. "So she got you the next Final Fantasy game. What's the big deal?"
Patrick held onto the game box and held his head up in pride. "Chris, the Final Fantasy series has been popular for years for good reason. It's an amazing series with deep storylines and even deeper characters. I tell you, if the game was any better, it'd be real life." He suddenly met the three stares of Crono, Marle, and Lucca. "Hey, I'm not saying that Chrono Trigger wasn't a good game. I'm just saying that Final Fantasy is deeper. Umm next!"
Chris Baker handed Patrick the last gift. It was in the form of a white envelope. "Here you go," Chris said, "just ask you requested."
"Sweet," Patrick replied, "that was rather fast, though, not that I'm complaining or anything."
Chris grinned, "I have my sources. Anyway, the date is scheduled for June 20. Four tickets. Hope you have fun."
"Only four? You aren't coming? What about Michelle?"
Chris rubbed the back of his head, "To be honest, I'm not one for sports. For another, Michelle and I already made plans."
"What are you talking about," Crono asked. "What's this about tickets and sports?"
Patrick faced the three. "Sorry about that. I kinda arranged some fun. I'm sure you will want to go Crono. Trust me."
"What are you talking about," Marle mirrored Crono.
Patrick smiled. "Easy. I asked Chris to set me up, and we have four tickets to a baseball game in three weeks. Atlanta Braves vs. L.A. Dodgers. It's going to be a blast."
Lucca raised her hand and asked, "What's baseball?"
June 3, 2006
Patrick was in the kitchen finishing up some bacon Marle had cooked earlier when Lucca walked into the room. She was pale and wobbled as she walked. Patrick stopped eating and focused on Lucca. She definitely did not look too well. "Lucca are you feeling okay?"
"Not really," she groaned as she lurched forward. Losing her balance, she fell on the floor and closed her eyes, exhaustion overtaking her. Patrick wasted no time in rushing to her side. He shook her several times, panic filling his soul.
"Lucca? Lucca?" He felt her forehead, "God, she's burning up. Poor Lucca. You've come down with something." He picked her up and began to carry her back to her room, thinking how he was going to solve this problem.