What is true sweetness?
Is it doing something considerate? Is it a person going out of their way to help someone they don't know at random? What is the value of a single grain of sugar? What is sugar worth now? Why was it worth fighting for so long ago in trade? Does a spoonful of sugar really help the medicine go down? Or does it distract us from the reality of the medicine's bitterness? Why be sweet in the first place?
Because all sugar is appreciated, no matter how little of it there is, it is worth fighting for. For it really does make the world a little bit sweeter.
The passage of the street was normal, but different. It was hard to put into words. It was like being in America, but not quite. It was difficult to say, but it was a tiny bit colder, and the sky above you had a cloud or two, yet it was the same sky. There were towering buildings on Yonge Street, and the signs were colorful. There was a Hard Rock café passing your window as your taxi sped forward in the midday. You gripped your luggage against yourself. You were in Ontario, Canada in Toronto.
"You know, Yonge Street is the longest street in the world?' the taxi driver informed. "It's at least 1,178 miles long."
"Cool,' you said simply. But you weren't really interested in his little tour. You wanted to look around and try to see if there was much to do in a country with strict gun laws, higher taxes, and higher cost of living. Stopping at a red light, you saw construction workers at a far distance ahead. You asked the taxi driver what was happening.
"Oh, they're planning on making this street longer and maybe set things up for new buildings, I heard that they're putting in eight new hospitals this year."
"Isn't that a little expensive? What organization is paying for it?" You asked.
"What are you talking about? The government pays for most of the medical hospitals and healthcare." He answered.
"Oh." You hummed. Maybe it wasn't going to be too costly to live here.
"You're in luck. The suburb you're moving into has just had renovations from one floor to a two story house. I'm sure it'll be beautiful." He continued.
You kept quiet, hoping he would stop talking about how beneficial his native country was. He looked at you through the rearview mirror.
"Maybe you'll see Mr. Canada while you're here in Ontario, miss. He's very nice."
Your ears perked up.
"Excuse me, Mr. Canada? Is that a mascot?"
"Sort of, he represents us as a person."
"So he's human?"
He laughed. "Last time I checked. But he's a bit different than us by looks and well… our Prime Minister dotes on him a lot. I guess that has to do with our country's relationship with its officials."
"Wait, I'm confused. Is he Canada, Canada? The country as a person?"
"Yep. He has a human name he likes to go by… his name…" His voice faded into the background.
You sat back in your seat, taking time to think. He must look like some brawny lumberjack or fur trader. Definitely not cute at all or maybe he's this anti-social snob who shows off his health care benefits. Since the country looks so similar to America, because the state of New York was only a Lake Ontario away, they could be twins, if what this taxi driver was saying is true. Is it possible to have an entity that represents your country? Well, your grandfather told you that your native country had one too but the fact of the matter was that you just hadn't met them yet. The red light finally gave the car permission to pass by to get to the Newgrounds Parkway suburbs that you were going to stay in with your aunt.
True to the cab man's word, it was a beautiful beige brick, two story suburban house. The only abnormality were the huge Acer maple trees surrounding the Parkway on all sides like a red forest, and that included your new home, there was rich green grass surrounding the white cemented driveway and the neighborhood smelt of a fresh construction. The taxi driver helped unload your luggage and bid you farewell after you paid him. You took out the house key provided for you as he drove away. You opened the door of your house to greet the ambivalence-inducing smell of a fresh coat of paint. You covered your nose with the sleeve of your (favorite colour) jacket and explored the rather lonely rooms of the house, hefting your stuff under one arm.
"Aunt (aunt's name)?" You called out. "I'm heeeeeeereeee…"
You stepped into the shiny kitchen to the dining table to see a note on the refrigerator. You put down both your suitcase and bag to take it down to see better.
(Name), the note began.
It's Aunt (Aunt's Name), and I went out shopping for a bit in town and I won't be back for at least an hour. I bumped into Mr. Canada at a café nearby yesterday! He was kind of hard to see at first, I don't know how to explain it. But then he started speaking to me in the nicest voice ever, and I tried telling him my name but he already knew it! I went to get your residence made legitimate at the courthouse and soon he started asking when you would move in by name! Maybe I might take you to the café he's helping out in tomorrow. Dinner is baking in the stove if you get hungry, your room in the one to the left upstairs.
You groaned. You were going to maybe see the mascot spokesperson of the country that has a monopoly based on trees tomorrow. Whoop-dee-freaking-doo.
You went upstairs to unpack, dragging your luggage up the carpeted stairs, to enter your room decorated in your favorite color. Your aunt knew you so well, at least that was in your favor. As soon as that was done, you laid on your bed to look though the contacts list in your phone, busying yourself, since you didn't have service in Canada yet. You flopped over, but then decided to open the window to the outside air. The window smoothly slid upward, and you locked it into place. You stuck your head out to feel the cool breeze on your face, and then the trees nearby swayed their leaves. One detached from its branch and floated onto the floor of your room. You went away from the window to kneel on the floor to observe it and pick it up.
It was a red Acer maple leaf, its fiery color blending with the yellow and green at the edges. You didn't hold it tight enough, and a strong gust snatched it from your hand. You didn't know why, but you started to grab for it, not wanting to let it go. It came to the outside of your window, when you made a dangerous dive for it, holding on to the wall of your room, while the rest of your body followed after the maple leaf. Fighting the wind, your fingers finally closed over it, and you pulled it back into the room. You held it out flat against your hands, and traced the colors. You poked your head back outside and let a breeze carry it away somewhere else, and you watched as it danced and spun. You closed the window, but not before receiving the feeling of someone watching you from below, but when you looked, there was no one.
"Did your unpacking go alright?" Your aunt asked you directly after putting up the groceries and serving you dinner, which consisted of a tasty meatloaf and pea soup, which actually was pretty good.
"O-oh, yes,' you mumbled distractedly. The former feeling of someone observing you from your window still unnerved you extensively. Suppose it was a stalker? The thought of it alone made you almost not want to finish the rest of your pea soup. Almost. It was good soup, you had to say.
"This is really good stuff,' you pointed to your bowl.
"Yeah, isn't it? I didn't make it though. Mr. Canada did."
Again with this Mr. Canada. He was nice, he was immortal, he cooked well, and he knew everyone's names. He sounded too good to be true. Usually people with that much skill were lacking in some other area in some way no matter what category it was. Perhaps looks, ego?
"What's he like? You met him, tell me." You persisted.
She flipped on the television to a hockey game, and the cracks of the puck were heard.
"Oh, you'll like him. He has such a wonderful personality." Your aunt told you as she relaxed into the recliners in the den, looking over the newest edition of Chatelaine as commercials overtook the mounted flat screen TV on the wall.
Oh, so he was that bad looking. Sigh… you knew it was far too good to be true. No man was perfect. Not even personified countries. It was an astounding concept, to the say the very least, and you had to admit, meeting a country was going to be eventful.
"Is he tall?" You asked a final question as you finished your soup to get started on the meatloaf.
"Yeah, he is,' she answered without looking up from the magazine.
A headache started to pierce your temples, and clawing at your frontal lobe.
Ouch. Jet lag migraine. You put up your unfinished meatloaf in the fridge and put up your dishes to climb up the stairs.
"(Name)? What's wrong?" She noticed you as you entered her line of sight from the den, swiveling her recliner in diameter across the carpet to you.
You waved off her concern.
"It's nothing, just jet lag headache. I'll go to sleep early to get better. Good night, Aunt (aunt's name)" you said, climbing the rest of the stairs to go up to your room.
"Good night sweetie, feel better!' she called up to you. 'The washroom is across from my room, okay? Do you want me to get you some Imitrex or something?"
"No, it's okay!' your voice distantly said from the second floor. You swung on the banister from the stairs straight into your room, pulling the curtains closed and getting yourself dressed and ready for bed, going into the washroom across from your aunt's room to brush your teeth and then hopping into your bed at precisely 7:37. Reaching across your dresser to turn off your lamp, you noticed different colors other than the (favorite color) of your room on the floor by the window. Your hand paused, to stare at the colorful something on the carpeting of your room.
You pushed away your covers with a start and sprung out of your bed to investigate the out-of-place object lying about in your new room. Upon closer inspection, it was a red Acer maple leaf, like the one that took a nose dive in here a while ago, but something white was attached to the front of the leaf, and you carried it to the light to get a better look at it.
It was a note. It had clear writing on it.
Welcome to Canada, (Name)
I'm glad you're here. I know you must be a wonderful person, giving back this maple leaf back to nature earlier today. I ran around and found it and put it back in your room. It's better that you keep it for yourself, they're about to go out of season.
I know we'll get along well. The fact is that I just haven't met you yet.
See you tomorrow,
-Mr. M. Williams
. . .
This was most definitely a stalker. A polite stalker, but he was a stalker nonetheless. You should tell Aunt (aunt's name) in the morning, but right now, you pulled out a heavy box from the packages in your closet and laid out a sheet under it, laying the leaf under the pressure of the box to protect it from wilting further. You met back with your bed, turned off the lamp and fell asleep.
You traced the lines of the banister's leaf carvings in the wood of the stairs, sitting on the fifth step while waiting for your aunt to find her keys, at the same time telling you that you should go explore the playground nearby or visit the park just outside of the suburbs. Being disconnected from your phone service was more trouble than you could take, you could only listen to music and make calls. There wasn't to be any internet 4G or even Ethernet service to your cellular device for another week until your service finally came into place in the country.
Graaaauuuughh… your stomach grumbled.
Man, you were hungry. Maybe you could sneak a bag of Crispers or a Chocolate Swiss Roll if you hurried. The familiar sound of keys jangling rang somewhere in the den along with the cheerful voice of your aunt yelling that she found them. The both you climbed into her car, and headed into town.
"Listen, I think I might have a stalker." You said.
"A stalker?' she asked. "How? You barely got here. It can't be."
You saw that she obviously didn't believe you at all, and got quiet as you were approaching your destination on the right. Maybe you would show her the note later.
The busy lights and friendly traffic of Yonge Street surprised you in the early hours of the day, and it wasn't long until Aunt (aunt's name) parked in front of a rich mahogany entrance of a café proclaiming the sign on the awning as Café Hetalia, in red and white cursive lettering.
"Isn't it a cute place?' your aunt asked you cheerfully.
"I guess so,' you hesitated.
"He's probably already started his shift." She said as she opened the door, letting you in first.
Everything was decorated with earthy tones, and there was a bar in the far left, where some people ate breakfast, others were being served at their own tables. The kitchen was at the far right and one wide wall had an outside door that led to the outside gazebo which also had tables with customers, but only a few people were eating outside. There were intricate wooden designs in the wood of the walls and maybe some branches mounted on the wall in decoration and it smelled very much like… sugar. It didn't smell like any other sweet thing you've ever smelt. It just didn't fit any other comparative than sugar. Did sugar even have a smell? Well, when sugar burned, didn't it have a distinctive smell that people can tell? You didn't know how to place it.
"… (Name)? Are you even listening?" your Aunt's voice interrupted your thoughts.
"Hmm?" You looked around to see her. "Listening to what? You're the only one here with me."
"No, you don't see Mr. Canada?"
You looked around once again, trying to see the mirage of the famed conversational topic your aunt was talking about. Suddenly someone tall was taking up space in front of you as if they've always been there.
You jolted in your skin.
"(Name), this is Mr. Canada. He's been working here for three weeks now,' your aunt introduced.
You said nothing. You had to crane your neck upwards to the tall man who magically appeared before you when you took a second look. He was blonde, his hair just below the nape of his neck, wavy and pretty. His eyes were an iridescent purple and looked out from long eyelashes, and his pore-less face was a healthy shade, but his figure seemed a bit stooped over, as if afraid to be at that height. He had one impossible curl hanging slanted over his face. You were a bit tempted to pull it by the strangeness of it. But you were beside yourself of how… well… beautiful he was. Usually men aren't this way but there was no other way to describe him. His inhuman perfection was positively alluring. He reminded you of an actor of some sort… perhaps in a superhero movie somewhere? You couldn't quite lasso your brain on which it was.
"Hello, (Name),' his whispery voice said. His timid smile gripped your heart.
Geez, was this a normal heart rate? You could have sworn your heart was beating at an interval of three beats per millisecond. That can't be normal. Or safe for your health.
Your arm felt a nudge. You looked up at your aunt, who switched her eyes from you to the blonde man as if saying 'Ahem?' with them alone.
"O-Oh! Sorry, hello. How do you know my name?"
"That's easy. Since you became a temporary citizen I instantly knew your name. (First Name, Last Name), right?" He asked as he offered you his hand to shake.
"O-oh, uh- I- I- ye-yes,' you babbled incoherently. That's right he was a country that you were in right now, you thought as your mind finally got up to speed and instructed your hand to reach out and accept his. The touch of your forefingers to his palm electrocuted you, and you pulled back with a squeal.
"(Name), what's the matter?' both your aunt and Mr. Canada said in unison.
Your left hand rubbed the side of your right.
"I felt a shock…"
"Oh, she probably got static, my shoes have been rubbing all over the carpeting all day,' Canada explained to her.
"Absurdité!' exclaimed a voice with a French accent from behind him. Mr. Canada turned to direct his attention towards the new arrival.
"Francis? What are you doing here?' asked the Canadian nation.
It was a staggeringly gorgeous man with wavy silky chin-length hair that seemed similar to Canada's and navy blue eyes, though he was several inches shorter than the basketball player height the Canadian had. He had a slight beard and was wearing the same waiter uniform that Canada was wearing.
"Never mind zhat, but zee electric shock zee both of you experienced was a sign of a destined love!' he said, swaying his hands about gracefully and the air about him sparkled ridiculously bright. He then hugged himself, and dipped his head.
"Imagine it, you, as zee maiden,' he stared at you, and grabbed you suddenly to twirl about the carpet. "Being zee adorable (and a bit pessimistic) little lamb zhat is lost in zee dreary gray of an everyday life, when suddenly you start getting secret admirer letters from a mysterious person and promising yourself to the writer!"
"Uh, France-" Canada began awkwardly, a sweat drop hanging on his head and your aunt's.
"I'm not finished, mon petit frère,' the Frenchman cut him off, suddenly lowering you in a dip mid-dance.
"Zhen suddenly you see my younger brozher, Matthew in all zee foxiness zhat he is (which totally came from me and not zhat British barbarian) to find yourself stuck inside a guilt love triangle! 'Oh, zee writer of zee letter I am surely in love with!' you may zhink, but also saying 'Canada is so charming, I need to pursue him!' and 'Oh, I can't choose! Such a wicked heroine I am!', then suddenly finding yourself with zee writer of the letters to be a childhood friend of yours you had given up on and zhen when he confronts you, my Mathieu will come in and save zee day by sweeping you off your feet and carrying you away on his sugary maple chariot!" He finished.
"Um, France?" Canada repeated.
The personification of France looked up from the dip to his younger brother.
"Everyone is staring at you,' he muttered.
True to his words, all sets of eyes in the café were indeed directed at you. You blushed deeply and the Frenchman released you, swaying about and gesturing towards the gawkers.
"Practicing for a little show, my wonderful audience, and I hope it has made your dining experience more pleasurable!" He announced.
Everyone slowly went back to eating and conversation as soon as France left the room, telling Canada that he only wanted to drop by and see how things were going.
"He's a strange country,' Matthew began 'but he's family."
"It sure must be exciting to be a country, Mr. Williams!" your aunt clarified.
He turned towards the both of you with a rather tired look on his face.
"Tell me about it, it's bad enough having three other noisy neighbors creating havoc, but I also have to put up with France's lively visits. I don't mind it though. He brings business in with each appearance." He said, and then offered the two of you a table to finally have breakfast.
"So, what will you have today?" The beautiful man asked his pen at the ready over his notepad.
"I think we'll both have the pancake breakfast special, what do you think, (Name)?"
Graaaauuuuuuughghghghghghghghghg… was your stomach's only answer.
The both of them stared at you with blank faces, and then both you and your aunt burst out laughing.
"I think the breakfast special will be just fine for us, Mr. Canada. I would like coffee with maple syrup instead of sugar and (Name)?"
"Milk or orange juice is fine for me,' you reasoned.
It was a very nice café, you admitted inwardly, as Mr. Canada and other waiters brought orders to feed the customers. Everyone was smiling and laughing and seemed to enjoy themselves. Your aunt was only looking at the bulletin board for the specials and checking the time on her cellphone as she did so.
Maybe now was the time to ask her about Mr. Polite Stalker.
"Hey Aunt (aunt's name)?' you asked.
"Hmm?' she hummed as she turned to face you.
"When I told you about the stalker, it was after I discovered a note that was addressed to me in my room."
"Oh, that's nice."
"Y-you are acting like it's no big deal…"
"So? I think it's cute."
"Uh… it might be a creeper or something… and you don't care?"
"It's not that I don't care, it's more like I find it exciting."
What could your aunt find exciting about a potential criminal stalking her niece?
"How?" you asked her.
"It sounds like an adventurous mystery! What if it's a cute guy that gave you the note?"
"That doesn't sound likely."
"As likely as a personification of a country being real?' she smirked.
You frowned. She had pulled out a good card there.
"I guess…" you muttered. Mr. M Williams… wasn't that Mr. Canada's human last name?
After finishing and paying for the breakfast, the both of you went to the end of the kitchen to thank Mr. Canada, who strangely, one of the employees said had left.
"Aw…' your aunt complained. "I guess we were lucky to even catch him here, he must be busy with national things too."
Your eyes surveyed the kitchen and you saw a door leading to what you saw was Canada, clearly still here in contradiction to what the employee said, but he seemed to be talking to another girl inside the room wearing a bob and a brown bomber jacket. You couldn't hear what they saying, but she was very pretty, which gave you a twinge of jealousy. It was clear to you that you might indeed like the Canadian country, but there was no way you would ever approach him saying such a thing. He probably gets offers like that all the time. Besides, you had a stalker to deal with. You heard your aunt calling your name, and you ran out of there to meet her outside.
"We're going to buy a few supplies I need to set up the walkway in the backyard,' she told you as you joined her in the passenger seat.
"Is there any paint or supplies left from when the house was renovated?' you asked her.
"Yeah, upstairs in the broom closet, why?"
"I just wanted to make something with it."
It was nearing the evening when you excused yourself from dinner to "go to sleep", when in reality, it was to prepare for your plan. You had brought the paint from the broom closet into your room and were poising your trap for your Mr. Polite Stalker. You laid out some wood boards from the storage room on the floor under the window, and mixed in plaster and cement with the paint and spread it across the board. The paint was red, which was just as well, because you were going to catch him red-handed…er… footed… red faced?
Whatever, the bright color will render him recognizable as the stalker! It was a good plan, a solid plan.
You prepared yourself to go to sleep and just before you covered yourself, you brought a fireplace poker from downstairs to defend yourself if need be.
Finally turning off the light, you setted into your pillow, and dozed off, floating into the nether of deep sleep.
You squeezed your eyes harder. There had been a weird wood noise that just woke you up.
Man, what time was it? Surely your aunt didn't make this much noise going up and down the stairs?
Creak, the noise insisted.
That's it, you were going to get up and see who was in the hallway. Taking your poker with you, you turned on the light of your room to see that someone was in your room caught in your trap.
"Ahhhhhhhh!' you screamed.
"Oh, hey what's up dudette? That's weird, why do have an iron pole thing?" The blonde man caught in your trap babbled, making small talk as if he wasn't stuck head to toe in red plaster/cement paint breaking and entering into someone's house. He had blue eyes and blonde hair that fell to the side of his face, with a bomber jacket identical to the one the girl that was talking to Mr. Canada wore. He looked like a bloody red mess in the red paint, no wonder it had given you the heebie-jeebies when you turned on the light.
You raised the poker over your head. "What the heck are you doing in my house?"
He laughed and rubbed the back of his head. "I guess I'm caught huh? I'm here to give you the next leaf thing."
"Wait, you're Mr. M. Williams?"
"Pfft,' he blew through his lips. "No, I'm Alfred F. Jones. I'm the United freakin' States of America. The note thing was France's idea, but he lacks the man-balls to do all the climbing up to your room for delivery, so he sweet talked me into doing his dirty work. He says that my broski had the hots for you since you moved to his house. You should've been there when he came up to me, there were like, piles and piles of lovey-dovey little memo-things addressed to you that he didn't have the guts to deliver. I teased him about it until he took out his hockey stick."
"Oh, I see…" you said calmly but inside, your heart was hammering like the thunder of a million collective storms. He… liked you…?
You pointed the iron poker under his chin directly pointing to his Adam's apple.
His face went blue with shock and dread.
"Whoa, watch where you're pointing that thing!"
"Can I trust you that you're telling me the truth?"
"Dude that's all I know! I swear!' he yelled 'why does it matter so much?!"
You took the note from him gently.
"Because I like him too…" you admitted to him, helping him get detached from the board.
"You do?" A whispery voice asked.
Both you and America jolted and faced towards the window.
There was Mr. Canada, still in his waiter clothes, with his left leg in the room to the side where it was safe to step, he had one hand on the side of the window and he was leaned over to the windowsill so he could fit his whole body in, but his eyes shined in timid surprise, his hair flowing into his face.
"Canada?!" Both you and the American asked unanimously.
"Dude, how'd you find me?!"
"It's hard not to hear you from across my own boarders, you dummy. You're so loud. I came in here to see what all of the ruckus was about and to see…,' blush dusted across his beautifully smooth cheeks, as he slowly peered at you through his glasses.
You stepped backward near your bed, where Canada walked in front of his brother to hit him lightly on the head with a hockey stick that came out of nowhere.
"I can hook up with the girl I like without your help, thank you,' he said.
"Man, that's low! If I wasn't in this paint I'd totally blow your mind with my uppercut,' he tersely pointed out while pulling at his legs to detach from the wood, but Canada paid him no mind. He instead turned to you with regretful eyes, plucking more than a few of your heartstrings as he did so.
"I'm really sorry for all this crazy stuff happening to you today, what with France and the "dance number" and for both him and America for the letters. I'll understand if you want to move back to your own country after all this is over,' he apologized.
"Oh no! It's alright I still want to live here! I see now that it's a wonderful place to live and I'd rather not be anywhere else!"
"Yes!' you asserted.
"Okay, and (Name)?"
"I…I guess I… I…"
America was now fully out of the sticky gunk and came up behind his brother. "Just kiss her already, you loser!' he sang and pushed his back to propel you to land on top of your bed, but he stuck out his hands in front of himself, and squeezing down your breasts while your lips connected with his.
You tried to ignore the fact that his hands were really soft and that you might possibly like the position you were in when he climbed off of you with a face the shade of a stop light.
"I made you score first and second base at the same time, bro! Am I super great or what?" The ditzy American threw up a thumbs-up.
"Oh my God, I'm so sorry!' he exclaimed to you, while you straightened your pajama top, your face felt like it needed the fireplace poker now.
"It's… alright…" You said quietly, the imprint of the pressure still hot on your chest.
Canada charged at his brother, who took merry chase about the room.
"You are so going to get it, you-!"
"Y'all should be thanking me bro-ha, I did your manhood a favor!"
"I swear you get that from France, you pervert!"
"Rather that, than get your wishy-washy attitude from England!" He retorted.
"I asked for my independence nicely, you brute!"
In the morning at the café, you greeted Canada with a peck on the cheek while your aunt sat at your table looking on as if the whole thing had been her idea, which you found out kind of was. Apparently, she knew what France had been talking about when he had been spouting all that love letter nonsense yesterday, which is why it didn't bother her when you told her about the note in the first place.
Because she already knew and didn't mind.
To her, this was all an exciting venture that she could sit back, relax and watch as the drama unfolded. 'After all', she had said 'it's not every day that you meet other countries in only three days and one of them is interested in your niece.'
What an irresponsible thing for an adult to say.
America had just been France's accomplice, and Canada gave him a good talking to as well, but then he started to try and give him a package of square golden packets which he immediately turned down and sent him home.