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Froppy

(PP-F16) Depression at the Beach

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Tsu had just recently joined the Guardians of the Rising Dawn and had gotten a bit of an introduction to everyone after a short little chat with Eatos. Paglikha seemed to be a bit of a downer from what Tsu had heard, so today she figured that she would try and cheer him up with a trip to the beach. Tsu opened her messages and found Paglikha. "Hey, Tsu here. I heard you've been down a lot, so I was wondering if you would like to come with me to the beach on floor 16. Just bring something light to wear, and we can hang out. See you there!" Tsu sent the message, and then made her way to the floor teleporter and headed to the 16th floor. After arriving, she made her way outside of the main town and over to the coast of the island the floor was on and laid down a big towel on the sand. She was the only other person on the beach today, not even the NPCs were around. Tsu changed into her bikini and laid down on the towel, closing her eyes and waiting for Paglikha to come.

@Paglikha

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Kalu was performing his usual, everyday routine. Wake up, have some stale bread and funny-tasting water, and show his respects to Axios. He didn’t know when Axios died, but in a way he felt as if he lost a brother. In a way, he acknowledged that he was just trying to ignore the pain that he felt when he lost one of his companions. In the same way, he felt nothing. Almost as if he was in a perpetual state of shock and denial.

Mid-way between Kalu’s ambiguous prayers to an even more ambiguous higher power (although he knew these would fall on deaf ears), a message popped up in front of him. He didn’t recognize the name. It was from a player named Froppy requesting his company on the Sixteenth Floor and, possibly, cheer him up from his current state.

Kalu reasoned that he had nothing much better to do in the first place, seeing as how he was currently lacking any inspiration to make music. In a way, he felt anxious. He didn’t know who this new person was in the first place, although he believed that she must have joined the guild a bit ago. After grabbing a pair of swimming trunks from the open-air market on the First Floor and some spare clothes, he traveled to the floor portal and selected Floor Sixteen.

The atmosphere of the place reminded Kalu of the Philippines. At least the ashen part. He had never seen the ocean and to see such a mass of water, it created a small spark in him. So this is what it looks like in “person”. Kalu then left the main settlement and set out towards the place this Froppy had instructed him to meet at.

When Kalu arrived at the beach, he saw who he assumed to be Froppy sleeping. “Hey, you called for me?”

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Tsu had only been asleep for a few minutes when she heard a voice asked if she called for them. Tsu sat up and turned around, waving to the boy. "Yeah, I invited you here, ribbit. I heard that you've been down a lot lately, so I figured the beach might help cheer you up, ribbit.Tsu said, standing up now. She opened her inventory and got out a beach ball that she had bought at one of the shops and held it at her side. "I figured if we did a few activities together, it would cheer you up, ribbit.Tsu said as she started to walk towards the water. It was sunny out, and Tsu was looking forward to getting to brighten up his day. "I forgot to introduce myself, ribbit. Just call me Tsu. But you might already know me as Froppy, the girl who joined your guild recently, rrrrrribbit.Tsu introduced herself, holding her hand out for the biy to shake.

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Kalu outstretched his hand to perform the handshake but faltered for a short bit. Hesitating. Activities? Kalu shook Tsu’s hand. ”Sorry was just taken aback by what you said. I don't really know how to do much other than find food, play the guitar, and do schoolwork. SAO is my first activity aside from the three and I just wanted to surprise-” Kalu paused for a second. Well, at least one of us got surprised. “Someone.”

Kalu had taken some swimming lessons at school due to a physical activity component of the curriculum so being submerged in water wasn't entirely a first-time experience. ”Believe it or not, I've never seen a beach before. Kalu was simply wading in the water and taking in the scenery. Bringing himself back to the virtual reality, Kalu turned towards Tsu. ”As you probably already know, my tag is Paglikha. Feel free to call me Kaluluwa or Kalu. It's a pleasure to meet you.”

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Tsu was kind of surprised that Kalu said that he had never actually seem a beach before in this world or in the real world. Apparently Kalu hardly did anything for that matter, that may have been why he was such a downer. SAO was his first break from the 3 things he normally did. "I hardly did much either, I've only played a few games, ribbit. But if you haven't done much, maybe today will be different for you, rrrrrribbit.Tsu said reassuringly, hoping to at least make Kalu look happy.

Tsu watched Kalu go off and start to wade in the water, and she followed him in. Kalu introduced himself and Tsu nodded. "Nice to meet you Kalu, ribbit. Before you make any puns, I'm already aware of all the similarities between me and frogs, rrrrrrribbit.Tsu said, giggling a little bit. She raised up the beach ball she had and tossed it to Kalu.

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Kalu caught the beach ball. Well, she gave me this for a reason. Kalu inspected the ball for a second, almost as if he was looking for a certain message or instruction. After finding out it was foolish of him to think there was an instruction on the ball, he tossed it back to Tsu. ”Well, today is certainly different. Coming from a mountain village, I've gotten the chance to see a ton of new, beautiful sceneries. I can definitely say this is definitely one of them.”

To Kalu, Tsu looked like she was in her natural element. Wait… Did she say similarities between herself and frogs? Might that explain the ribbits? I thought it was just a weird quirk of hers. Like how some people repeat an action like a ritual. Kalu couldn't help but chuckle just a small bit. It was amazing the people this virtual world had trapped inside. ”Yeah, definitely not an ordinary day for me. I can say that for sure.”

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Tsu found it weird the way that Kalu had seemed to inspect the ball and look it over, almost as if he was trying to read it. He tossed the ball back to her, and Tsu caught it easily. Beach balls were always pretty easy to play catch with. Kalu said that he was from a mountain village, so he's been able to see plenty of new beautiful sceneries, this beach being definitely one of them. "I'm glad to hear that, ribbit. I come from a rather plain suburban town, so I'm always seeing new scenery too, ribbit. This beach is just amazing, ribbit.Tsu said, looking out at the ocean for a second.

Tsu noticed that Kalu laughed a little bit when Tsu brought up the similarities between her and frogs. "Don't believe me? Look at my tongue, it's over a foot long, rrrrrribbit.Tsu said, laughing a little bit before sticking her tongue all the way out, it going a little bit over a foot out of her mouth. Tsu tossed the beach ball into air and turned her head back, before slapping the ball with her tongue and sending it directly to Kalu. "Today's not an ordinary for you? Well, neither is it for me, I hardly ever visit the beach, ribbit. But here we are, just hanging out, rrribbit.Tsu said as a small wave of water went past them, going up to their knees.

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Kalu was pretty surprised about Tsu’s tongue. He didn’t want to be rude asking about it, so he just decided to accept it. It was a fact; trying to change it or understand it could cause some issues. To Kalu, he was trying to pin the correct adjective for her trait. It’s not weird. It’s unique. Like a special trait given to one in a billion people.

However, as Kalu was lost in thought the beach ball flew past him. The incoming wave was pushing it even closer to the shore. Kalu felt like a little kid running after some sort of animal, trying to have fun with it again. Crouching down to pick the beachball up, he smiled a small bit as he tossed the beach ball back to Tsu. ”This may not be an ordinary day for me, but I’m sure this is an ordinary activity for a lot of people in the world. I’d like this to be an ordinary day for me too.”

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Tsu thought she had caught Kalu off guard with her tongue, as the ball went right past him. "It's not really that big of a hinderence, ribbit. It's just my little, uhh, quirk. Yeah, just my little quirk about me, ribbit. Do you have something quirky like my tongue, rrrrrribbit?Tsu asked, as Kalu crouched down and picked up the beach ball. He smiled, and Tsu couldn't help but smile with him, her little methods of cheering him up were working.

Kalu tossed the ball back to Tsu, and she caught it with her tongue, as the ball went a little bit over her head. Tsu giggled when Kalu said that he was hoping this would be an ordinary day. "Well, it's a little difficult to have an ordinary day when this is your first time, ribbit. But something doesn't need to be ordinary to be fun. You're having a not ordinary day with someone who definitely isn't ordinary, ribbit. Spicing things up is always more fun than being ordinary, ribbit.Tsu said, smacking the beach ball back over to Kalu with her tongue.

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Is spicing things up always more fun? Kalu’s smile faltered for a second before he continued to smile back at Tsu. ”I don’t really have a certain quirk like you do. I’m more of the average person.” And saying that I had a less than average past is understating the obvious.


As Tsu slapped the beachball back to Kalu, this time he caught it and held it for a second. He was looking at the beach ball as if he was staring off into space. Do I truly deserve being here? I came to Japan on a charity ticket on top of a visa lottery. ”Do I truly deserve to be alive?”, Kalu muttered under his breath. That question had been something running through his thoughts lately. He realized he was lucky, but that wasn’t truly something that he had decided of his own accord. Before long, however, Kalu tossed the beach ball back to Tsu and said with a smile, ”Don’t worry about me, I just space out sometimes like that.”

 

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Tsu nodded in understanding, not really saying much else about who is and who isn't ordinary. Kalu's smile had faltered for a second, and Tsu couldn't help but feel that it was her fault he stopped. "Well, I think we all have a special quirk inside of us, ribbit. Give it some time, and I'm sure you'll find your quirk too, rrrrrrrrribbit.Tsu told him, wanting to raise his hopes a little bit more.

Tsu watched as Kalu caught the beach ball, but just held it again. It looked like he was trying to find instructions again. He muttered something, but Tsu couldn't quite pick up what he said. Kalu tossed the ball back to her and a smile was on his face again. "I can tell, you seem to space out often, ribbit. What do you want to do after this? There are other beach activities you know, rrrrrrrribbit.Tsu asked before catching the ball. She tossed it up into the air and slapped it with her tongue again to Kalu.

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”Well, I would have been content living a completely ordinary life. It’s something I have never had the chance to really experience. This normalcy, it is calming beyond belief.” For a few minutes, Kalu had forgotten about his entire past and his hardships qs he caught the ball and tossed it back to Tsu. Focusing on the now and how fun it was, it couldn’t have been better. For the first time in possibly forever, Kalu had a smile on his face. It wasn’t a facade that he had put up, but his true emotions. ”I haven’t really hung out with friends, so I don’t really know any activities at all. So you’re pretty much teaching me from scratch and I’m just playing by ear. My parents-” Kalu collapsed.


Once again, the memory of his friend and his parents triggered something within him. He dreamt of the Monument of Life in front of hin, and Axios’ name on it. The walls melted into grasslands as he saw his friend die by a boar. Kalu felt like he was drowning. He remembered the time that he almost drowned when his parents tied him to the back of a dingy, when they tried to force him to net fish.


He woke up breaking the surface of the water. Kalu felt like he could cry, but nothing came out. He was still sitting in the water when he talked in a monotonous voice, ”I’m sorry."

 

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Tsu listened as Kalu said that he would have been content with living a completely ordinary life, never really getting to experience something like that. Normalcy was indeed calming, spicing up stuff wasn't always the answer in cases like this. Kalu stopped talking at the mention of his parents, and he fell into the water. Tsu ran up to him as he woke up and she sat down beside him. Tsu set the ball on the ground as she did so. Looking out at the ocean, it was even more relaxing now. "You had trouble with your parents, ribbit? So did I, kinda. They were hardly ever there for me and my siblings. Since we all had the tongue thing going, they had trouble keeping jobs, ribbit. If you want to talk about your problems, I can listen to you. Don't need to lock yourself up in your head and never deal with your problems, rrrrrrrrrribbit." Tsu said as she looked at him with a warm smile, trying to comfort him.

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”I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m perfectly fine”, Kalu lied as he forced a smile. ”I’ve got a minor history of narcolepsy. There is no real trigger topic that causes me to space out or randomly fall asleep. I guess it just happens randomly and I was thinking about that topic.” He forced a laugh which sounded like it came from a robot or voice synthesizer. ”This is who I am.”


However, as Tsu talked, Kalu was surprised. Kalu initially thought of Tsu as someone with no issues. The tide started going out to sea, but Kalu was steadfast in his resolve. ”But it does sound like you have something you want to say. Maybe not about your mom and dad, but my ears are open to any concern you may have.” If I could help you in any way, it’ll be one of my accomplishments.And Kalu believed that he did not have many.

 

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Tsu could tell immediately when Kalu was lying, just by the way he forced a smile. It was obvious when Kalu forced emotions. Tsu listened to Kalu as he talked about his case of narcolepsy, and just tending to fall asleep in general, saying that it was just who he was. Tsu giggled a little bit and nodded her head in understanding. She could tell that Kalu was trying to hide something, but she decided to leave it alone for now, since he clearly didn't want to talk about it.

Tsu put her head down and nodded when Kalu said that it seemed like there was something she wanted to say. He was also willing to listen, so Tsu decided to vent out a little bit to him. Tsu opened her menu and pulled out a small vial. "I've had a lot of bully problems growing up, ribbit. A lot of kids made fun of me and did stuff to me because of my tongue, rrrrribbit. Worst case was when they tied my tongue to a street lamp, ribbit. My entire family is made fun of, and just our last name in general has become a joke, ribbit. My grandparents were experimented on by the government, testing frog hybrid DNA, ribbit That's why I have this stupid tongue, rrrrrrrrrrribbit.Tsu explained as she brought her knees up and stared out at the ocean a little bit more. Tsu handed the vial to Kalu and smiled again. "If you take a sip of this, your tongue will grow and be just as long as mine for the rest of the day, and if you drink the whole thing, it will last for about a week, ribbit. But I suggest that you ribbit like I do so you don't choke, rrrrrrrrrribbit.Tsu explained, watching to see if Kalu would actually drink it.

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“I’m- I’m sorry to hear that. No one should have to go through that pain. I’m not going to lie, I had my fair share of issues, but I’ve learned to deal with them by myself. If you want a shoulder to lean on, I’m always there.” Kalu paused for a short second before adding, “Any and all of the guild members will always be there to help you.” There are people around you willing to help you, all you have to do is just ask.

Kalu was sympathizing with Froppy’s situation and was understanding her pain. He had his fair share of abuse, albeit from someone much more closer to home (but at the same time, so much farther from home) so he meant every word he said. When Tsu offered a potion, a couple of thoughts ran through Kalu’s mind. Why and where did Tsu obtain this potion? Personally, Kalu did not want to go through the pain of having to ribbit in order to avoid choking on his tongue. However, Kalu accepted it nonetheless for later usage. “I appreciate the offer. I know for sure I’ll take it, I swear on my life. But… I don’t want to take that potion right now. Trust me, I can understand those pains more than you believe I do. I know this is a selfish request, but I just want to enjoy this moment.”

Kalu felt some tears stream down his face as he finished that last sentence. The smile on his face never wavered though. Even he didn’t know if he was just wearing it to try to assuage Tsu’s fears that there was some underlying issues, or if he was experiencing actual joy in this instant. “I forgot to say this to you since we first started, but thank you for inviting me here.”

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Tsu shook her head when Kalu said that he would always be there along with the rest of the guild to help her if she needed a shoulder to lean on. "It... it's fine, ribbitI don't need help, if I just bury my feelings and tell myself I'm fine, then I feel fine, ribbit. This whole trip was to cheer you up, not make myself feel worse. I'm basically a frog, and I have to deal with it, ribbit. But I want to help you, since you seemed like such a downer. You don't have to take the potion, no one I offered it to has taken it, ribbit. There just is no potion to have a normal tongue for me to take, I've searched far and wide for one. So I've mostly gotten used to having this stupid thing, just a quirk I have to live with, rrrrrrrrribbit.Tsu said, standing up and picking the beach ball back up. Kalu had a few tears coming out of his eyes, and few started to come out of Tsu's eyes as well. Tsu subconsciously wiped them away with her tongue and looked down at Kalu. He thanked her for inviting him to the beach, and Tsu got a small smile on her face. "Thanks, but you don't need to patronize me, ribbit. This is why I don't like to talk about myself to other people often, people treat me even more different, ribbit. On top of the frog things, people give me their pity. Sometimes I just want to kill myself and hope I'm born into a normal body, rrrrrrrribbit.Tsu said, feeling a bit betrayed by her own words now. Now she was going to get the same treatment from Kalu. 

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“And who was the person who told me not to close myself off? I believe her name was Tsu who also has her own problems but tries to ignore them.” Kalu was trying his best to attempt at any humor he could. However, being funny wasn’t his forte especially as his “friends” were more like company within his misery. Kalu didn’t want that to be the case with Tsu. “I’m going to take it”, Kalu said as he snatched the potion out of Tsu’s hands and put it in his inventory, “Just not right now.”

Brace yourself Kalu, you’re going to need it. “The problem with me is I can’t truly experience emotions by myself. I am like the living epitome of the phrase ‘If you’re happy, I’m happy.’ And that’s the truth. My- my mom and dad, they weren’t really good pa- people. Negligent is to say the least, abusive is still an understatement. Without going into lengthy detail, I was on the brink of starvation for the majority of my life and the blame is on them.” Kalu found it weird that when he spoke about his past, his emotions simply faded away. “My ‘depression’, if that’s what you would call it, is more like a numbness. A first nature from how I grew up.”

That’s when Tsu started talking about her experiences. To say the least, Kalu reacted with anger. Not towards Tsu, but towards the world. “No one should have to go through that!” Kalu grabbed her hand. “It’s not pity! I’m not treating you any different! You’re you, nothing changes that. You don’t have to change. Everyone has imperfections, and that’s what makes them unique.” Kalu remembered Axios, Juhmer, his maybe friend, maybe acquaintance, his spot on the Monument of Life, Kalu’s constant hoping Axios wasn’t him. “And please. I beg of you. Don’t think of doing that ever again. The thought of losing someone else, it bothers me. It’s the reason why I joined the guild. To get stronger, sure, but to help other people. If they’re happy, I can be happy too. So for both of our sakes, be happy.” Please, don’t die. You’re the first person to approach me as a friend since the beginning of the game, not as a guildmate.

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Tsu felt a bit hypocritcal now, trying to hide her own problems and push them aside, despite just telling Kalu not to do that. Kalu had talked about his negligent parents, and Tsu felt a bit bad for him. "We both have parent problems then, ribbit. But I'm just glad to hear that you're not depressed. You still want to do some other activities, rrrrribbit?Tsu asked as she helped Kalu stand back up.

Kalu seemed angry now, telling Tsu that she didn't have to go through her treatment. He didn't want her to change, and Tsu was a bit surprised by that. "Wow, hardly anyone says that, ribbit. Only you and Pin have been okay with me. But don't worry, I won't kill myself, ribbit. I'm still happy, I don't let things get to me often. What do you want to do now, rrrrrrrrrribbit?" Tsu asked as she patted Kalu on the shoulder with her tongue.

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Well, that’s good. Kalu said as Tsu’s tongue patted him on the shoulder. A ton of new experiences, indeed. First time I’ve somewhat talked about them for a long time. “Well, I haven’t really been the beach and never really done any real activities except...”, Kalu trailed off when he saw a tree with a couple of coconuts at the top. “Give me just one second.”

It's been a long while since I’ve done this. Kalu put both of his feet onto the tree trunk and checked to see if he was somewhat secure. He then climbed the tree with ease, remembering his experience and where he consciously forgot his footing, his body remembered and then appropriately adjusted before continuing. After reaching the top, he took out his knife and cut the coconuts down. He started moving down the tree until he felt the soft sand beneath his feet.

Finding a sharp rock at the treeline, he used it to crack open the coconut. He continued to bash the coconuts with the rock until their shells gave way. “Want some?”, Kalu asked Tsu offering one of the coconuts. “The juice is pretty good.”

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