o - o - o - o - o
Canada was lonely.
It was another day for a world meeting and another day where he was ignored. At least this time no one had sat on him (was he really such a comfortable cushion?).
He didn't know what was worse: the blatant disregard for his presence or (when the other countries actually noticed him) being mistaken for America. Maybe both options were equally distasteful. Not much was accomplished at these world meetings anyway but he kept going to them, fueled in part by his duty as a representative of his country, and a smaller and more hopeful part that perhaps that day could be the day he was finally noticed. It never happened.
Canada couldn't wrap his head around why the other countries mistook him for America so often. Sure, they were the same height, and they both had blonde-ish hair, and they both wore glasses and military uniforms, and...Okay, so he and America looked alike, but Canada's hair was more orange and wavy! He has a winter coat, not that bomber jacket America likes! His eyes are violet, not blue! The most glaring difference between the two of them though is obviously Kumajirou. Kumajirou is Canada's polar bear companion who he always carries around with him in his arms. The only thing America carries around are his burgers. How exactly the other countries were dense enough not to see Kumajirou was beyond Canada.
Canada sighed and decided that today he had had enough. He stood up from his chair and left the meeting room (not that anyone tried to stop him).
It was the first time in a while that Canada simply just gave up. Usually he'd attempt to at least stay longer at the meetings, but today his mood was even worse than normal. Every bad thought compounded in his mind. Yesterday, Cuba thought he was America again and yelled at him. The day before that, England, who wanted to punish America for being an idiot, forced Canada to eat his awful cooking. The day before that one, America forgot to meet with Canada for one of their usual hangouts (America would just drag him to some fast food place anyway).
Upon his arrival at the hotel he was staying at, Canada collapsed in his bed. He was angry, but now he was exhausted. Canada felt like there was a heavy pressure in his head. His old intrusive thoughts came to him unbidden. Why was he here? Why did he keep trying? No one appreciated him anymore. No one needed him anymore. There was a time when he was a colony, when he was something new, something valued, treasured, and fought for. Canada was nothing now.
He gave so much of himself to others. Still a young country, he had fought and bled through wars both big and small. Wasn't he a nation too? Didn't he deserve to be acknowledged by others? Why should he be forgotten?
Canada hated himself. He hated his timidness. He hated his aggression. He hated speaking up. He hated not speaking up. Most of all, he hated being in America's shadow.
Young Canada was overshadowed by America: bright, charismatic, and special America. England took Canada in, but it was clear much of his attention was on America. Even when America left England, brashly fighting and declaring his independence, Canada stayed by England's side. It hurt Canada not to be acknowledged by England, who he fought for. It hurt Canada that France, his first guardian, forgot about him too. It hurt Canada when America ignored him in favor of boasting because he was "the hero". Does Canada matter to America, France, and England? Did he ever?
Hot, salty tears came out of Canada's eyes, dripping down to his chin. He curled up into a ball, holding Kumajirou close to him. I wish I could just disappear entirely. This world doesn't need me. No one needs me. No one.
Canada closed his eyes.
o - o - o - o - o
America stretched his arms after coming out of the meeting room.
Ugh, these meetings are always so boring. That's why he always tried his best to make them more interesting! He was the hero after all! The strongest and most powerful country! If it annoyed the other nations, America didn't really care. Besides, he knew that in their minds, they were secretly hoping for the meeting to be over with. They'd probably rather be back home than having to be stuck in a room with other countries for hours on end.
If he was being honest with himself, there was another reason he was glad to be out of there. Sometime during the meeting, maybe halfway through or later, America felt that something was wrong. No, it wasn't his stomach acting up after eating too many burgers again or drinking too much coke. It wasn't anything concerning his country, thank goodness. Rather, America felt like something (or someone) was missing. He had checked the room for missing occupants. There were empty chairs for the countries that never made it, clustered together, but one chair in particular caught his attention, between England's and France's. Hm, was that chair always there? Strange how America never noticed it before.
Outwardly he was his normal goofy self, but this conundrum stuck with America for the rest of the meeting.
He called out to France and England, who were bickering with each other (typical).
"Dudes, did you notice that totally empty chair between the two of you? Does someone sit there?"
"What are you on about now, you bloody idiot? No one sits there! It's probably just there to keep some distance between me and the frog. Not that it helps," England grumbled.
"Oui, I have seen no one in that chair today."
America frowned briefly before putting on his regular smile. "Well, whatever dudes. There's a triple cheeseburger calling my name so I'm out of here!"
He gives them a two finger salute and runs away, ignoring England's look of disgust.
Once he's out of the door, America slows down. He racked his brain for all the countries he knows attended the world conferences. Okay, so there's China, Russia….Germany, Japan, Italy….Spain, Switzerland….Damn it, who am I missing? Wait, wasn't there a country to the north of me? Who is it…? Oh yeah! Canada!
America snaps his fingers after his realization. Canada! How could he forget? He'd been meaning to call Mattie after the meeting and hang out with him, to apologize for being a no show a couple of days ago.
What's his room again? Uh, 35? 82? 49! That's it!
As quick as he could, America rushed to the hotel where he and the other countries were staying. When he made it to the hotel, he hurried to the elevator and pressed the button for the fourth floor. As the elevator rose higher and higher, America's anxiety climbed. Why did he feel like he needed to urgently find Canada? The nagging feeling in his gut would not go away.
America breathed a sigh of relief when the elevator stopped and opened its doors on the fourth floor. Finally! He ran past eight rooms before making it to Canada's. He pounded on the door but no response came. Weird. Mattie gets annoyed after just the first knock. America continued his assault before deciding to throw caution to the wind. He broke down the door and rushed inside.
There was no one present. Not Canada, not his weird bear Kumajirou, nothing. America checked the bathroom; Canada wasn't there. If Canada wasn't in the hotel room, then maybe he could search for some clue as to where Canada went. America rifled through the drawers and cabinets only to come up empty. He finally checked the bed. He noticed something that he hadn't before in his panic. Lying on the pillows were Canada's glasses. What? Mattie's glasses? But he never forgets them! He's way too careful for that. America checked the bed again and saw a lump underneath the blankets. He lifted the blankets, only to find Canada's smartphone.
Pressing the power button, nothing happened, so America waited longer as the phone booted up. After a few seconds, the phone's screen shifted to a blank white, devoid of anything except a simple note taking app. America's fingers trembled as he opened the app. One word glared back at him.
The cover of the story was made by me.
The title of the story is a line taken from Pablo Neruda's poem, "If You Forget Me".
If little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you
Little by little
If suddenly you forget me
Do not look for me
For I shall already have forgotten you
If you think it long and mad the wind of banners that passes through my life
And you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots
That on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms
And my roots will set off to seek another land