Another day at Yamata high and another day Ria spent waiting for, well, anything. The redhead sat underneath a tree on the grounds, watching two groups of kids bickering back and forth. Now and again, one would stand taller or attempt to throw a punch, but someone always stopped it. They knew better than to straight up fight while school was still in session.
Ria’s hands absentmindedly played with the doll in her hand. It had been weeks of her waiting for a chance to tell the two kids who had helped her thank you- the two who had stopped those bullies from hurting her. The two kids who, by the looks of it, were a part of groups who couldn’t stand each other.

One of the pair was the biggest, with shocking red hair. It was usually he who Ria found first. The other was a smaller girl with dark brown hair and an almost permanent expression of ‘Piss off’ worn on her face.
Neither adhered to the dress code, but then again, it seemed none of their friends did either. Instead of the black ties and ribbons, half wore red and the other half wore blue. Blue and Red seemed to hate each other very much.
Why did both of them help her? That was something Ria had begun to wonder since the first time she tried to thank them.
At first, she didn’t want to get between the warring cliques, just preferring to wait and find a time she could catch them alone. Now slowly, she had just started observing them and their behaviours. Without anyone else to talk to besides the straw doll in her hand, it did make for a lot more entertaining lunches.
In the back of her mind, however, she kept reminding herself to wait for her time to come. To go up to the tallest boy and angry-looking girl and tell them both that when they defended her, it was a great gesture of kindness to her.
“It’ll never end with them, huh?” Ria asked the doll quietly. She continued to fiddle with the little arms and legs of the item, smiling a bit more to herself. “You make this a lot easier to deal with. Having you to talk to. Having… someone to talk to.”
Ria found the doll not long after the incident between herself and the bullies. It was on the floor inside of the abandoned classrooms. She had been wandering around some of the restricted areas. Nothing too dangerous or deep. Just exploring. And then she found it. Sitting in the corner and calling out to her. Not physically of course. But something just told her to pick it up.
Thank Khazradan she had. It had proven to be a nice companion to give all of her problems to. With her Mom constantly working and Dad having left years ago, Ria didn’t have an ear to listen to her problems. This little doll had proven to be a wonderful companion.
“Now if I could just figure out what to name you, we’d be great friends huh?” She asked with a growing smile, having to talk a little louder as the two groups continued to argue, their bravado growing into thunderous shouts and taunts. “They really never stop, do they?” She asked, glancing at the straw doll. Ria gasped slightly.

Illus. by Miriam Medina

For a split second, Ria was almost positive that the doll had nodded its head. It wasn’t the first time that she had seen something like this. Or thought she did. But each time it happened, she chalked it up to just a trick of the light or her imagination. She spent her free time speaking to a doll, after all. Even when she did it, she knew she was being a little silly.
“Come on. It’s almost time for class.” Ria stood up and dusted her black skirt off. She glanced over at the two people she had come out here for. The taller one just stood there, arms crossed and looking off into the distance while the smaller one was being held back by a man with a long ponytail and a mean expression. “Next time. I just… I just have to do it. Tomorrow. Not today though, I’ve got to get a haircut tonight,” She said to the doll, giving it another smile.

he next day, at lunch, once again both groups of kids in the blues and reds were arguing and yelling, some more than others. But, for once in some weeks, the tree that they gathered near stood with no one beneath it. Save for a small straw doll. Its entirety a light brown save for some splatters of crimson. Beady eyes stared at the two groups and every now and again, they would glow a soft purple.