Friday, April 15, 2011

Summertime (a short story by me)

The scorching heat of the sun is finally here, indicating the coming of summertime.

Whenever dusk arrives in the summertime, I usually hear a lovely, yet melancholic music created by a piano from a lime green, Victorian-style rest house near our traditional Japanese house in Kaneyama, a small village in Yamagata Prefecture.

I live with my grandmother who works at the Namaka Fish Market as a vendor, and the fishes that wasn’t sold for the day goes directly to our plate as our dinner. I spend my summer night with my best buddy, Tadashi, grilling our dinner in the garden while my grandmother prepares us a scrumptious dinner. We enjoyed the symphony of the crickets during the night as they coordinately make their sounds.

One afternoon, as Tadashi and I ride our bicycle, we heard the music again.

“It sure is sad Tadashi. You know, I have this feeling that the one playing that music is in agony. Perhaps he or she is lonely.”

“You think so?” Tadashi said, as he picks his nose, “I think he is some ugly creature! HAHA! Now that answers why he doesn’t go out of his house.” We stopped, “And that bewilders me.” He told me in a serious tone.

“You’re right. You really think it could be a monster or some demon?” I asked as we continued riding our bicycles.

“Are you stupid Akira? In this era, there is no such thing as demons or monsters anymore. It doesn’t exist! You fool!”

“You’re calling me… a fool?!” I accused him. He just laughed.

I bid Tadashi goodbye and parted our ways. As I was riding alone in my bicycle, the music’s like hypnotizing me and I suddenly felt the urge of following it. The music is getting louder as I approach the lime green rest house. I park my bicycle in an abandoned lot beside it and walked my way to the fence of the house and peek at its window. I saw a piano and the hands playing it, and it belonged to a girl. Those hands were beautiful—white as snow, illuminating, and like a doll’s. I moved a little to the left to see the face of the girl playing the piano, but the darkness of the inside of the house covered her face. “Just my luck!” I thought to myself.

When I got home, I went to bathe in our wooden bathtub. I sat there for some minutes, trying to picture out the girl’s face based on her hands, until grandma called me, “Dinner time, Akira! Be quick or Tadashi and I’ll eat ‘em all dear!” So Tadashi’s here…again.

“What?!” Tadashi yelled. “You actually saw a beautiful girl playing that melody?!”

“Well, technically I didn’t see her face because it’s dark inside their house, but her hands… They’re perfect.”

“So you’re assuming that the girl is pretty because of her hands?” Tadashi laughed. “How pathetic! But my presumption may be right, not that HE is, but SHE is ugly. Okay case closed.”

“How can you be so sure, Tadashi?” I asked.

“I just am! Because apparently, I’m great, am I not?” Tadashi bragged.

“Just go home!” I laughed, “And, why are you always eating dinner in our house?”

The chilly night, was warmed up by our laughter and joy. But at the back of my mind, I’m still wondering—who is she?”

In my sleep, I had a dream. I was in a beautiful forest with all the beautiful roses around, adjacent to the clear and gleaming water of the lake. It is dusk, but the forest elucidates its own glow, making me able to see its splendor. I heard the melody again, but this time I also saw it. There were notes floating, directing me to the one who created it. I saw the notes coming from a human size rose bud. I touched it and it open wide, revealing the pianist’s back. It was the girl with beautiful hands. She’s wearing a long red gown and a pair of white wings. She was like an angel. I felt my stomach churn as I walk towards her to see her face. As I tap her back to see her face, her angelic image melted and she became a monster with big horns and sharp fangs, with reptilian-like skin and tail, and a dragon-like wings. She roared at me, and I was really terrified. I ran as fast as I could but the flame from its mouth caught me and burnt me alive! I was yelling. I woke up panting, and covered with sweat, realizing that it was just a strange dream. I was really scared.

One afternoon, the melody played again. I went to the rest house to see the girl, hoping to see her face. I want to really make sure that she is not a monster or a demon, just like in my dreams.

The music was so mesmerizing that it made me sat on the concrete wall and lean on their fence. I was humming the melody until it stopped, but I still continued to hum without realizing that she suddenly stopped playing.

I heard the gate open and saw girl walking towards me. She’s wearing a knee-length, white dress and a shawl. I was spellbound by her face. She’s no demon. She’s an angel, a goddess to be precise. She has a small pinkish lips, ivory skin, big almond eyes, and a long dark hair. She was beautiful even if her hair is a mess. She resembles a porcelain doll.

She asked me in a nice way, “What are you doing here?”

“I, uh, I just passed by your house and I heard you play. I really think it’s beautiful… Sorry to interrupt you playing the piano. I’m Akira by the way.” I modestly answered.

“No that’s okay. I was just checking the one humming.” She laughed, “Uhm, I got to go now…”

She hurriedly walked back to their house, and I yelled “Wait!!! What’s your name?”

“Mika” She replied with a smile on her face…

From that moment, I knew that I’m starting to like her. And I knew that I wanted to be friends with her. The sky was mixed of orange, pink, and indigo. Then I headed back home with a smile on my face…

“Are you serious?! Goodness! I gotta meet her too!” Tadashi cried.

“See? I told you she’s not U-G-L-Y. She’s not just any talented girl, she’s also drop dead gorgeous! Her name’s Mika.” I replied.

“Pretty name for a pretty girl! You’re so lucky man!” Tadashi teased.

“Hey, why don’t we visit her later? I’ll introduce you to her. Y’know, even though I haven’t got to know her personally, I feel a special connection. You understand? We have this special bond.” I told Tadashi as I clasp my hands, bringing it to my heart.

“In your dreams man!” Tadashi chuckled, “I can’t wait to see her.”

It’s exactly 5:30 pm and the sun is starting to take its rest. Tadashi and I decided to go to the rest house where Mika always play the piano. We can already hear the melody and it gets louder and louder as we approach her place. We sat in the concrete floor and listen to her playing. It was definitely lovely, but somewhere inside me, I feel heavy and sad. The melody suddenly gave me nostalgia. I remember the day when my parents had an accident—it was so tragic and heartbreaking. From then on, my grandmother adopted me and raised me.

I snapped out from that thought and realized that Mika was standing in front of me.

“Hi!” Mika greeted. “Oh hi Mika! Sorry I was out of my mind for a moment.” I apologized.

We were standing face to face and I just found myself blushing. So did she.

“C’mon Akira! Snap out of it! I thought you are going to introduce me to this fine lady.” Tadashi insisted as he bowed down in front of Mika like a true English gentleman.

“Oh right! By the way Mika, this is my friend, Tadashi, and she’s also a fan of your playing.”

“That’s so sweet of you. Thank you. I’m Mika.” said Mika.

“Are you new here? Because it is the first time I saw you.” Tadashi asked.

“My family actually owns this rest hose, but I went here alone because I want to escape from the busy city. I’m from Tokyo, actually.”

“Don’t tell me you’re a runaway?” Tadashi kidded.

“No. I’m not. I’m as free as the wind…” she replied.

I suddenly had this urge to ask about the melody. “I’ve noticed that you play the same melody every sundown, if it’s okay to ask, is that your original composition?”

“Oh no. It’s actually my mom’s. She just taught me how to play it, and it became my favorite.” She explained. “I remember my mom whenever I play it.”

“Where is she?” I asked without being disrespectful.

“Let’s just say, she’s far away…”

After that encounter, Mika, Tadashi, and I became close friends. And for some couple of weeks, we hanged out together. In the morning, we invite her to go to different places in our small village. And since she doesn’t have a bike, she rides with me in my bicycle. We also took a lot of pictures from my cell phone as we go to different places and did whacky poses. It was really hilarious and fun at the same time.

One afternoon we invited her to go to the beach and stroll along the shore. I was so stunned when I saw her wearing a white maxi dress and on her head is a nice weaved hat, she was alluring that morning. Her smile was so warm. My heart beat really fast and I was staring at her for a minute.

At the shore, Mika and I walked side by side. At first, I was so hesitant to touch her, to hold her hands, but after some inhaling and exhaling, I got the courage to hold her hands. She did not shun. I felt the urge of confessing my admiration to her. I was so anxious but I though to myself, this is now or never.

“Mika, I… I… I wanted t-to t-t-ell you s-s-something.” I stuttered. I took a deep breath and continued, “I wanted to tell that ever since I saw you play the mystical melody, I fell in love with it. And when I saw you, I thought you are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in my life. I like you Mika. I really, really like you.”

For a moment, the air was dead. There was nothing but silence. I saw tears falling from the almond eyes of Mika, but she was not looking into my eyes. She was looking at the enormous orange sun as it sets.

“Akira, I like you too. I do, but you may not like me after some days…” Mika hesitated.

I felt a chill on my back when I heard those words. “No I won’t! And I am certain of my feelings for you, and it won’t easily fade away.”

“Akira, listen to me…” as her tears fell, “we are not meant to be together because… because…” Mika broke down.

“But why? We are both young, and we like each other. Don’t we?” I hugged her and didn’t speak anymore. I let her cry into my shoulders as the sun made its last exposure of the day. It seemed that the sky is sympathizing with Mika. There were no stars around.

Tadashi and I brought Mika back to the rest house without any words coming out from our mouths and bid her goodbye. I was startled at the house. It was dark. It seemed abandoned, sad, and lifeless. From then I found out that she stays alone in the rest house—no caretaker, no maid, no aunt and uncle, no one but she and her piano.

I had another dream. But this time, not in the forest. I found myself floating in the sky, 1,000 feet above the ground. I can clearly see the buildings and houses at the bottom of my feet. Cars are like ants and people are like dust. I was wandering in the air until I found a girl from afar. She was wearing white dress and she was illuminating. I floated my way towards the girl, but as I come nearer, it seems that she’s keeping distant from me. I squinted to look a better view of the girl’s face. To my surprise, it was Mika. As the sun reaches its peak, Mika slowly fades until I was left alone in the air. I woke up in the middle of the night with tears on my eyes. I was having strange dreams again.

I got up at the crack of the dawn because I couldn’t sleep anymore. The image of my dream keeps on hunting me. I went outside our house to jog, and when I went to the street where the rest house is located, I was puzzled to see a car outside the rest house. There’s a nice-looking lady and a tall man carrying baggage inside the rest house. It may be her relatives paying her a visit. “Maybe they would be delighted by some treats this afternoon.” I thought to myself.

“Granny, will you accompany me later at the market to buy some treats? I just want to give them to the visitors at the rest house on the other streets.” I exclaimed to grandma.

“Oh dear, so the owners of the rest house are finally visiting after a decade. That’s nice to hear!” She uttered.

“Oh yes, granny. I think they are visiting Mika there.” I hurriedly said to grandma. “Bye granny, I’ll meet Tadashi today.”

“Wait!” I headed off already before grandma tried to stop me.

As I rode my bicycle to Tadashi’s house, I checked the rest house first.

I heard the melody plays again. I parked my bicycle and went to peek at the fence. I was enigmatic to see a middle-aged woman’s hand playing the piano. I looked for a better view of the woman’s face. She looked really familiar. She looks like the old version of Mika, but her face looked. The tall man noticed me peeking at the fence and went out to inspect me.

“Young man, what are you doing there?” the tall man asked as he folded his arms.

“No sir. You got the wrong idea. I have no bad intentions at all. I was just looking for Mika.”
The tall man looked surprised that I know Mika. His skeptical face immediately turned qualmish. He went near me and grabbed my shoulders tightly, but not in a hostile way. His tears fell to his cheeks.

“How did you know Mika, our daughter?” the tall man sobbed.

“I’m her close friend, sir. We met just 2 months ago, just this summer. Why sir, is there any problem?” I started to panic.

“But that’s impossible son. Didn’t you know that Mika was hospitalized in Tokyo for 3 months now? She had an illness. You are confusing me.” He explained.

“But sir, I am very certain that I met her just 2 months ago. She’s white, has small, pinkish lips, and has a dark hair, right? Sir, I don’t understand you. Why are you doing this to me? Is it because you discovered that we fell in love with each other? Are you parting us apart?!” I cried. “Here let me show you our pictures.”

I went to the menu and clicked the image folder and browsed at the pictures. My eyes widened when I open the files. The picture is there, but the persons in the picture are only me or Tadashi. Mika is not there. I turned off my phone and turned it on again to check if it malfunctioned, but the pictures are still the same—no Mika. My vision is becoming fuzzy and my eyes watered. I couldn’t contain myself anymore and I ran to Tadashi’s house to clarify what’s happening.

I burst into tears as I ran to Tadashi’s house.

“Tadashi you have to help me… Mika’s parents are confusing me, they say that she’s hospitalized in Tokyo, and is sick for 3 months! How could that happen if we spent our summer with her?! Right, Tadashi?!” I cried.

“Wait man. Calm down okay? But let me ask you first… Who is Mika?”

“C’mon man! Not you too! Did her parents tell you that so that we’ll be apart? Answer me! I know you like her too. But please man, don’t do this to me! We’re buddies since we’re kids.” I bawled. “Seriously, who is this Mika? I’ve never heard of her before. It was just the two of us who spent our summer.” “You’re unbelievable!” I went out their house, banging the sliding door.

I will find her. I went to the beach because it is our favorite place to stay during the summer. As I stroll along the shore, I saw a girl sitting in a rock. It was Mika. I was so happy to find her, and I broke again into tears. As I got nearer her, I saw tears in her eyes. I hugged her and kissed her in the forehead.

“Am I not a good daughter? Have I been bad? Why are my parents not giving attention to me? As if I do not exist.” She whimpered.

“No dear, you are a good person. You have a beautiful heart, and I love you no matter what happened. Please just stay by my side and never leave me, okay? I love you.” I sobbed.

“Akira, I don’t know, but I feel really, really weak right now. But no matter what happen, I will forever love you. Always remember that.”

I embraced her tightly and shut my eyes, savoring the moment that we’re together. But I feel something’s wrong with her—not with her health condition, but with her physical existence at this time, at this place. I just don’t understand. But no matter what, I won’t let go of her.

When I opened my eyes, I found myself hugging the air. Mika vanished into thin air. She was gone.

“I knew I’d find you here.” Granny said as she walks her way through the sand.

“Grandma, I just don’t understand what’s happening—to me, to Mika, to Tadashi? How come Tadashi doesn’t remember Mika?” I asked.

“You see grandson, when some persons are struggling between life and death, their souls travel to a place memorable for them to reminisce. But when the emotions of those souls become so passionate, they are granted the power of existence in order to create memories before their struggling bodies would choose to live or to die.” She explained as she wraps her arms around my shoulders.

"But being a soul with a power of existence, in the case of Mika, she doesn’t know that she is just a soul. She thinks that she is a normal and free Mika, but what she didn’t know is that she is lying in bed—in coma—for months now, and that she is just a soul." She continued. “Having a power of existence is not permanent. Once the struggling body decides to live or to die, she will eventually disappear into thin air. And as time passes by, one will forget of the soul’s existence, like Tadashi. Soon you will forget her existence grandson. That’s the rule of the nature. It has been defied by those souls, but the nature will definitely do something to fix it. That’s why you will eventually forget her.”

“Grandma, so you mean the body of Mika has decided to live… or to die?” I asked as I tremble forcing the tears not to fall.

For a moment Grandma was silent. I think I know what it means. I couldn’t contain the tears in my eyes anymore. I became weak and felt the gravity pulling my body down. I’m forcefully trying to remember those days we spent together while Mika’s melody is playing inside my head. And by the shore, I sat down and wept as my grandmother stands beside me, watching the last ray of the sun spread in the sky until the indigo color engulfed the whole sky. Everything was silent, everything was sad. Death isn’t the most painful thing on earth, but forgetting someone whom you truly loved without you even realizing that she existed in your life.

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