Monday, August 2, 2010
I was a freshman in high school when my dad came home from work one late December night with Mina wrapped in a blanket. She was only a few weeks old and had trouble walking correctly due to weak leg muscles but I loved her with all my heart.
My dad found her in a box by some trash cans and couldn’t bear to leave her out in the cold. He thought she would make a good company for me when he’s out working late. My mom passed away when I was in middle school due to an incurable illness.
I didn’t make many friends through my four years in high school. Mina became my best friend. I shared with her everything; from how my day went to my dreams for the future. She listened and was always there waiting for me when I came home every day.
Shortly after I graduated from college, I got married with my beautiful wife who I met during my college years. She loved Mina as much as I did. Shortly after we got married, my daughter Melody was born. She adored Mina very much, they often played together.
While my daughter was getting older so was Mina. By my daughter’s second birthday, I noticed that Mina was slowing down in everything she did. She was no longer a kitten but a very old cat.
By Melody’s third birthday, Mina slept more and ate much less. My daughter asked me many times what was wrong with her best friend. I told her that she was just getting old and needed more rest. But deep down I knew it was time for her to go.
A few days after Melody’s fourth birthday, Mina gave up moving and eating. She was shutting herself down slowly. My wife and I decided to end her suffering by taking her to the vet and put her to sleep. My daughter was against it.
“Daddy, Mina will get well!” She cried to me.
“I’m sorry, honey.” I said “Mina is a very old cat. There’s nothing we can do to help her.”
“No! You’re a murder!” She ran over to Mina and held her in her little arms.
I decided to wait maybe until the end of the week to take Mina to the vet so they can spend some time together. But the opposite happened; Mina never made it to see the morning light. I woke up to her lifeless body lying there in her bed so peacefully. I stroked her fur gently hoping to wake up her up, but she never did. My wife comforted me as I cried in her arms. Afterward, we put her in a nice little box so my daughter won’t have to see it. We walked to Melody’s room and woke her up gently.
“Honey, Mina is gone.” I said gently while trying to hold back my tears. “I’m so sorry.”
She cried in my arms…no we cried together.
That late afternoon, we buried her in our backyard with a nice cross standing over it. I picked up my daughter and whispered into her ear, “Mina is in cat heaven…she is in a better place.”
“I loved Mina.” My daughter said with her eyes filled with tears. “Do you think she left because she didn’t like us?”
“I loved her too.” I reassured her. “I know she loved us very much but it was time for her to go because she was old.”
Even though a few years have passed, it’s still hard not to shed some tears when I see that cross standing there in our backyard. I know she is in a better place but there was one thing I never got a chance to tell her and that was: “Thank you…thank you for everything you have done for me.”
Monday, July 26, 2010
From a far distant place, a piano is playing our song gently
At the sound of our song, the empty sky burst into tears
Washing everything away
Leaving behind a shade of gray
Suddenly, the piano stops as a stranger with a gentle gaze appears
His hair and cloak soaked from the rain
With his trembling fingers, he gently touch the cold keyboards on the piano
He places himself slowly onto the seat of the piano
He bursts into tears
A maiden with a fragile heart appears before him
She places her hands gently upon his shoulders
Her hands were cold
Her dark hair was down and soaked from the rain
She was wearing nothing but a long white dress
She's so pale
He looks up into her empty and colorless gaze
On her knees
She gently places her head on his lap
Without a word
The stranger begin to play our song gently
The empty sky continue to cry
The stranger with a gentle gaze continue to play
As the maiden with a fragile sleeps soundly on his lap
From a far distant, a piano is playing our song gently…
The sky gave itself up into darkness
The clouds begins to cry at the sight of what was happening
Washing away life mercilessly with its tears
Into one color
Soaked from head to toe
You noticed a lonely flower
Trying to grasp what little life it has left in her
Taking off your shirt quickly
You became a protection for this helpless thing
I watched all this in silence
I can see the life is slowly draining out of you
Yet why do you still smile?
With my tremble hands
I reached for you
Only to bring back memories of you
Suppressed by bitter pain
And in confusion
I begin to walk
Walk away from you
Turning away for one last good bye
I found you lying on the muddy ground
Slowly your dreams begin to unravel before me
In colors that I have never dare to dream
But it gave me a reason to continued to protect what you have left behind
“Darling, I am here tending your precious light without you.”
I whispered gently to the flower
The wind begin to sing to us
A familiar melody
A lullaby for the clouds
The thing we called “light” emerged through from within the darkness
The very little flower we protected
Bloomed before my eyes
I found myself remembering how to smile
Falling onto you
This time I was sure it was you
That my head is resting upon
Closing my eyes slowly
“I love you darling.”
"Very good princess." I said with a big smile on my face. Out of the corner of my eyes, I noticed that Mr. Taro is sleeping peacefully under a bush. "Kenta, did you let the cat out again?" I turned to my eight years old son who was busy playing with his Nintendo DS Lite "It's not me dad."
"It was me honey." My wife, Yuki looked up from her reading. "I think it's nice for Mr. Taro to get some sun once in awhile."
"But you know his bad habit dear." I protested to her. "He likes to wander off when we're not looking."
"Hmm..but he's always home by dinner time, you know that." She went back to her reading again.
One of the things I learned from my marriage is that I can't win against my wife in any arguments; somehow she's always right in the end.
I met Yuki in college through a friend of mine. We were both attending Osaka University at that time but majored in different things; I majored in writing and she majored in children's education. I'm not sure if it was love at first sight but I knew I wanted to spent the rest of my life with this woman right from the start. We had our ups and downs but somehow we made it through.
"Help me down daddy." Eri's voice snapped me out of my thoughts. I quickly went over and helped her down. "Thank you." She hugged my legs tightly.
"You're welcome, honey." I patted her on the head. We made our way over to Yuki.
"It's almost time for dinner." I showed Yuki the time on my watch.
"Then we better get inside then and I'll start dinner." She closed her book.
"Where's Mr. Taro?" Eri asked.
"He probably wandered off again." Kenta made his way over to us.
"We'll wait for him at home princess."
Shortly after we got home, it started to rain. "Weird, I don't remember the weather man mentioned rain today." Yuki looked at me.
"Do you think Mr. Taro will be okay?" Eri looked at me too.
"He will be just fine." Yuki picked up Eri and put her on her lap. "He's a smart cat."
"I'll go out and look for him." I grabbed a umbrella from the closet.
"Be careful darling, it's pouring and windy outside."
The rain is really coming down hard I thought to myself. I can feel the force of the rain beating down on my umbrella. Please be okay Mr. Taro I prayed silently.
"Mr. Taro!" I called as loud as I could but it was not loud enough to beat the sound of the pouring rain and the howling winds.
1 hour passed, 2, and then 3, still no luck on finding Mr. Taro. I went back home feeling like failure. Yuki greeted me with a hug. She has already put the kids to bed and was waiting for me to get home by the window. I changed out of my wet clothes while she made coffee for me. Afterward, we just sat there listening to the flickering sound of our old reading lamp.
Mr. Taro is a very important part of my life. He appeared from nowhere when I was five. I was a quiet boy with a speaking problem. My first word was at five. Before that, I didn't know how to speak. I used to point to let my parents know that I wanted something. My brothers as well as the school kids would make fun of me because of this. Every day going home from school, I would run into some bullies. Kids can be so merciless with other kids. The only thing I could do was run. I ran as fast as my little legs could but it was still not fast enough. They beat me with their little fists and I was always coming home with new bruises.
Then one day, I was walking home like any other day except it started to rain. I didn't have a umbrella. "Hey Hideki!" I looked up and saw Tashiro and his buddies slowly making their way to me. Fears suppressed me as I backed away and into a wall. Before they could do anything, something jumped between them and me; a tabby cat.
"It's a stupid cat!" Tashiro laughed.
The cat as if knew that Tashiro was laughing at him, attacked him with his claws. That scared the other kids off. Tashiro, now face covered with blood mixed with tears cursed at me before running off too.
I nodded to the cat as a way of thanking him before continuing home. The cat followed me all the way home and protected me from that day on. My parents didn't want to keep him at first. They tried kicking him out but I wouldn't let them. I grabbed my dad's arm and cried out, "CAT!" That surprised him. "Hideki just spoke!" My dad got excited. From that day on, I learned to speak.
"Hideki, are you okay?" Yuki's voice snapped me out of my flashbacks.
"I have to go out and look for him!" I said
"No you can't! It's so dark and pouring out!" She protested
"You don't understand! Mr. Taro protected me when I was young now it's my turn to protect him!" I run out of the house and into the darkness.
"MR. TARO!" I yelled "ANSWER ME PLEASE!"
An hour passed with no sign of Mr. Taro. I fell on my knees and cried. "This is all my fault."
I looked up. "Mr. Taro?"
"Mr. Taro, where are you?"
The sound, where is coming from? I asked myself.
I followed the fainting meows to a garbage dump. There, beneath all the garbage bags and other things is Mr. Taro, soaked and scared. I quickly took off my shirt and wrapped him up. "I'm here now, Mr. Taro. Let's go home old friend."
Half way home, I ran into Yuki. She dropped her umbrella at the sight of Mr. Taro and me. With tears in her eyes, she hugged us both tightly. Afterward, we made our way home slowly, enjoying the beating of the pouring rain and the sound of the howling winds. "Purrrrrrr...."
"I'm starving!" He took a seat right across from me. "You want to get some food?"
"Yeah let me finish up this last page."
It didn't take me too long to finish up what I was reading and I went with Kenji to his favorite ramen shop just down the block from the school. We both ordered the house special ramen with everything and two sodas. While we were waiting for our food, a girl walked in. At first glance, she didn't really catch my eyes until she opened up her mouth to order some sashimi with green tea. Her voice, it reminded me so much of her.
"Who?" Kenji looked at me with a confused look. "Who are you calling to?"
"That girl!" I pointed her out. Kenji turned around quickly to have a look at her.
"Oh that girl?" Kenji turned back and looked at me straight in the eyes "Her name is not Mitsuko, its Miko."
"Are you sure?" I lowered my voice to make sure Miko doesn't hear us.
"Yeah, she's Tanaka sensei's daughter." Kenji took a slip of his orange soda.
"I see" I couldn't take my eyes of her. Her every moment reminded me of her.
God, why does this "Miko" girl remind me of Mitsuko? It's been almost four years since Mitsuko passed away. She had leukemia at a very young age. Her parents did everything they could to keep her alive but in the end she slipped away from them and everyone else. Even though she had leukemia, Mitsuko was the happiest girl I know. I met her in the hospital because of a distant family member of mine was dying of cancer. I was only ten then and I couldn't stand seeing so many people crying at once so I left to do some exploring to pass time. It was her voice, her beautiful singing voice. Even till this day I can't forget it. I entered her room without knocking but she didn't mind. She was glad to have some company.
We introduced ourselves and had a wonderful conversation. I couldn't stop blushing the whole entire time. Mitsuko is cute and she's two years older than me. She was always smiling and laughing at all my jokes no matter how dumb and unfunny they are. I loved her with all my heart from that day on.
I visited her every single day. She listened to everything I have to tell her. I feel so safe and comforted when I'm with her.
"Mitsuko, do you think you will get better?" I asked her one day while having lunch with her under a big oak tree.
"Yes, I do." She smiled at me warmly.
"And what's the first thing you want to do when you're well?" I took a giant bite into my turkey sandwich.
"I want to lay in a field of flowers and be lost among them while watching clouds go by." She put down her sandwich and turned to me with so much passion in her eyes. "I want to strolls under the big blue sky and sunshine barefoot in a white dress without a care in the world."
"That sounds nice." I smiled at her.
"Yeah, it does." She agreed with me before biting into her sandwich.
"Okay, let's do it!" I jumped up
"Do what?" She gave me a confused look
"Let's go to that field once you're well."
"Really?" A glow appeared on her face
"Yeah, I promise I will take you once you're well."
"Thank you, Hikari" She beamed at me.
Mitsuko didn't get better. She passed away after I gradated from high school during the summer time. Her parents called me one day to let me know that Mitsuko only has a few days to live. I stayed up that night crying. The very next morning I rode my bike looking for a field of flowers. It took me a day but in the end I came upon a small field of flowers. This will do I thought to myself and picked an armful of flowers. I quickly rode back to the hospital. I burst into her room with the flowers dirty and sweaty. But she didn't care, she cried of tears of joy and embraced me tightly in her arms.
"I know you can't be at that field right now so I'm bringing a part of the field back to you." I blushed "But one day you will."
"Thank you, Hikari."
"Promise me you will take me there someday..." That was her last words to me right before she closed her eyes.
"I promise..." I whispered into her ears as I struggled to hold back the tears. "I love you, Mitsuko."
Mitsuko passed away that summer and took my summer along with her...
At the sight of an empty wine bottle sitting on the kitchen table, Tetsuo let out a loud sigh and knew that she stayed up another night. He cleared the table without much effort and started on breakfast. At the smell of fresh coffee, his girlfriend Eri walked in. Without a word to him, she quickly went to the cabinet and grabbed a coffee mug.
“Good morning to you too,” Tetsuo said with a slight hint of ignorance in his tone.
“Oh, good morning.” Eri muttered without even looking at him. She poured herself some coffee and quickly devoured within minutes.
“I see you stayed up another night.” Tetsuo showed her the empty wine bottle.
“I guess.” Eri said as she went on pouring herself another cup of coffee.
“You can’t keep doing this!” Tetsuo said. “You have to a least try to sleep.”
“I tried!” Eri said with her back to him. “But I can’t fall asleep like you!”
“Then let’s go see a doctor after breakfast.” Tetsuo hugged her. “I don’t want to see an empty bed each morning and finding empty wine bottles on the table. I want to be able to wake up next to you.”
Eri didn’t even look at him but she did nod her head at his request.
After breakfast, they went to see Doctor Atsushi Narusegawa, an old friend of Tetsuo’s and his doctor since childhood.
“It’s good to see you, Tetsuo.” Atsushi smiled at the sigh of Tetsuo. “Are you feeling ill?”
“No, it’s not me.” Tetsuo smiled back politely. “It’s my girlfriend, Eri. She has trouble sleeping and haven’t slept in almost three weeks”
“Oh my. I too would be concerned.” Atsushi turned his attention to Eri. “Are you going through stress?”
“No.” Eri answered. “I don’t know.”
“Do you have any medical problems that may be the caused of your insomnia?” Atsushi wrote something down on a piece paper.
“No not that I know of.” Eri bit her bottom lip.
“We’ll run some tests just to be sure.” Atsushi said as he got up and gave the paper to the nurse.
Tetsuo took Eri to a nice sushi restaurant for lunch after her tests. “By next week we will know the results to your tests.”
Eri didn’t say a word; she was too busy staring into the streets.
After a week, Atsushi called Tesuto and said “I suggest you go see a therapist or psychologist for Eri.” Atsushi paused long enough for Tetsuo to said, “I see.”
“Yes, she’s healthy so I’m thinking it may be a psychological thing. Maybe something happened when she was a child or something she is going through now and is not telling you.”
“Thank you for your time, Atsushi.” Tetsuo said politely before they exchanged a quick good bye.
Eri walked in with a book she’s been devouring since this morning.
“Honey, is there something that’s bothering you?” Tetsuo asked.
“No.” Eri answered as she took a seat on the coach.
“Are you sure?” Tetsuo pushed on. “You know I’m here for you and I would do anything for you.”
“I’m fine.” Eri said.
“Atsushi called and-“ Before Tetsuo could finish his sentence Eri cut him off and said, “I know what he said. I heard everything.”
“Then talk to me!” Tetsuo pleaded with her.
“I’m fine!” Eri protested and that was the end of their discussion.
Staring at herself in the mirror, Eri felt helpless. She loves Tetsuo with all her heart and it hurts her to see him like this. If only I could fall asleep then everything will be okay between him and I…
That night Eri decided to give it another try. She got into bed in a long shirt and underwear, right next to Tetsuo who was busy reading a business magazine. She looks at him with complete tenderness and kisses him. She started with his cheeks, neck and ended up with his lips. He quickly dropped the magazine and returned her kisses. Tetsuo’s hand innocently wandered down to her crotch area. Without any hesitation, he took off her underwear and gently massages her before putting his fingers in her vagina.
She lets out a gentle moan. He fingers her for a bit before inserting his penis. Tetsuo usually like to start off slow and gentle before picking up speed. Eri’s mind, a blank canvas now filled with complete pleasure. She could feel his penis deep inside of her, creating this intimate understanding and connection between them. They didn’t have to exchange a single word, for the pleasure was enough to keep them going. When the sex was over, Eri closed her eyes waiting for sleep to fall on her. Tetsuo went to sleep without much trouble.
At the sight of millions of flashing lights like the flash on a camera but millions of them aiming at her woke her up from her sleep. She looks at the time and it’s only one in the morning before looking over at Tetsuo who is sleeping soundly like a baby. She got off the bed and went to the kitchen. Her throat felt dry and she decided to get something to drink. She took a bottle of wine from the cabinet and pours herself a glass.
By three, it started drizzling outside. At the sight of the rain from her kitchen window, Eri quickly changed her clothes and went out for a walk. She stopped at an empty park and took a seat on a wet bench. She looks up into the starless sky and held her hands out to catch raindrops. The raindrops felt like little kisses on her skin. The night was no longer long and lonely to her now. There was this warmth that she can’t explain but it made everything cleared to her.
The alarm next to Tetsuo’s bedside went off at exactly eight. He reached over only to be greeted by an empty bed. He quickly pulled on a clean boxer and made his way to their kitchen. In the kitchen he was surprised to the sight of Eri cooking breakfast and coffee already made.
She greeted him with a smile and a kiss.
“I’m confused…what’s going on?” Tetsuo still in shocked.
“Nothing, sweetie.” Eri continued to smile.
Whatever happened last night, Eri can’t explain or even recall but she knew something magical happened. It was her little secret from Tetsuo and with sleep coming back to her little by little as the days went on. She knows she’s going to be fine just like she did in the beginning…
She was quiet today, very quiet. He did all the talking today, but he knew soon he will be at lost for words if she doesn't start talking.
"Is something bothering you?" He waited for her to answer him.
After a few minutes, she pointed to her right and said, "Let's go over there."
He followed her without a word. They walked in silence for twenty minutes or so and she stopped suddenly in front of a small building.
"Sakuragi Hotel" He read out loud to himself and immediately turned to her with a question mark on his face.
"Let's go in." She said.
The hotel was old and dusty. The thickness of the dirt and dusts can be seen from the entrance of the hotel. The waiting room was empty with only a few tables and seats sitting around. He noticed in the left side corner of the hotel was an old record player playing Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York". The hotel manager greeted them warmly and gave them the key to a room before going back to his newspaper.
"This is one of my favorite song." He told the hotel manager.
"I'm glad." He said without looking up from his paper.
The elevator broke so they had to take the stairs up to their room. The stairs creaked with each step they took. "I can see why he has no customers." He chuckled to himself.
They stopped on the third floor in front of room 304. The room was just the right size for two people. He noticed that the red carpet in the room has lost its color and the white paints were peeling off from the walls. The television in their room was broken along with the mini fridge. "Let's go to a better hotel." He suggested to her.
She didn't answer him and made her way to the window curtains to fix them.
He let out a sigh and made his way into the bathroom. To his surprise, there was actually hot water in this hotel. "I guess something I can look forward to now." He muttered to himself.
He came out of the bathroom only to find the room darker than he remembered. he noticed the curtains are now closed, the table lamp was on, and she was sitting on the bed with her face buried in her hands.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
"Please close the bathroom light" She said quietly. He did so immediately and returned back to their room.
Before he could say a single word or ask another question, she took off her black dress right in front of him revealing a simple black bra and matching underwear. She made her way to him and gently undid his tie and soon his shirt. He didn't protest but he was nervous. After she undressed him, she leaned forwarded and kissed him before backing away a few steps to unhooked her bra and took off her underwear. They made love soon after that with great passion that kept them going all through the night.
Morning soon arrived and the sun light slipped through the gaps between the curtains. He opened his eyes only to find himself alone. He panicked and got dressed immediately. He looked every where in the room for her but she was no where to be found. He ran down the stairs and into the front desk. "Where is she?" He yelled at the hotel manager.
Confused and alarmed the hotel manager managed to asked, "What are you talking about sir?"
"I came in here last night with my girlfriend and now she's gone!" His voice now even louder than before.
"Please keep your voice down, we have other customers around here." The hotel manager pointed out. "I don't know what you're talking about. You came in here last night alone."
The hotel manager reinsured him by showing him a tape from their surveillance camera. Indeed he came alone and requested a room.
He turned around and was also surprised to find the hotel clean and new with actual customers sitting around. "What's going on here?" He asked himself. In the left corner of the hotel room he noticed the old record player was still there, and it was playing Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon". He went back to his room wondering "Why are everything different now."
To his surprise, a white cat greeted him right after he opened the door to his room. There was a note attached to the cat's collar. He read it a few times before picking up the cat and said, "Let's go home...cat." The cat didn't protest and they went home together shortly after.
Later in the afternoon....
The hotel waitresses came in to clean room 304. One of them discovered a note laying on the pillow and read out loud to herself.
What to say? There are some things better left unexplained but it can be understood with the heart. I know you love me in ways I can't ask for anymore except to continue to take care and love me. Did you know that lately you're all I need? I'm sorry and please forgive me.
"This doesn't make any senses." The waitress crumpled the note up and dropped it in the garbage can before locking up the bedroom door to room 304.