After that night in Trigleph, when Elize told him she’d be his only friend, Alvin would find a cookie under his pillow every morning. One sugar-covered, over-sweetened like treacle cookie waited for him every time he woke up. He didn’t have to pretend he was asleep to spy on the unlikely kind soul who gave it to him. It could only be the stupid kid – who else? Rowen was too old for such childish gesture, Leia – too resentful against him; Milla was too straightforward and Jude – too preoccupied with figuring out how to save this world. Who else? Who else knew that he didn’t have a childhood except the stupid kid?
…Stupid to put her trust in him. Stupid to grant him forgiveness. Stupid, stupid…
Alvin never particularly liked sweets, or disliked for that matter. At first, he thought he should throw them away, but the thought did not linger. It wasn’t her fault he’d turn out like that. So he began saving them, putting them in his pocket after wrapping them up tightly in a thin piece of cloth. It wasn’t until the fourth cookie joined the other three when Alvin finally had the courage to eat them – he couldn’t let them grow stale. He shifted to the dying fire after everyone else had fallen asleep and unwrapped the tiny package; stared at it for a few moments, marveling at how the colors reflected in the large beads of sugar. It shouldn’t have been hard to eat a cookie, but it somehow was and he felt guilty for even trying to accept her timid kindness. It wasn’t a simple cookie, after all.
A token of friendship, a bribe, a child’s heart.
“Hey, Alvin. Alvin!”
“What’s you favorite kind of cookie? Elize wants to know, but you’re a big fat liar so I said to her that you wouldn’t tell her the truth,” replied Teepo.
“It’s not like that… It’s a stupid thing to lie about anyways.”
“Well, isn’t it stupid to lie about anything?” She timidly voiced her question. “You told lies that hurt other people. This time it’s just a simple harmless one…”
He sighed. “That’s the point, you see.”
“The point of lying is to hurt other people?”
“Yes. To avoid getting hurt yourself. I wouldn’t lie about anything that’s so harmless… And my favorite cookie… I don’t know, I don’t have one. Do you think I should?”
Alvin took a bite and, savoring the taste, chewed on the over-sweetened pastry. He never told Elize he didn’t particularly like the taste and he ate every single one of them. The taste didn’t matter. When he woke up, something reminded him why he chose to stick around ‘til the end this time, why solitude was bitterer than a company of friends who hated him – reminded him that he had promised and this time his words were more than empty sounds expelled from his mouth, sweetened with a spurious smile and spurious pride; reminded him that there was something good to expect in this world.
That one sugar-covered, over-sweetened, like treacle, cookie.