Posts Tagged ‘death’

I still remember just how she looked, the moment she entered the room. Fat snowflakes dusted her mahogany hair, matching her pale skin and marking a stark contrast with her black eyes. She didn’t see me at first, so I could afford the study of her rosy cheeks and laughing mouth. Her dark red coat had several splotched of packed snow, revealing an intense snow-ball fight which must have occurred right outside the door of the house.

Then she looked at me. It was as if I was shot through with electricity. Even my fingers went numb with the intensity. She looked as surprised as I felt. Neither of us seemed to be able to move for a moment. Her blond friend looked back and forth between us several times before shoving Tanya toward me.

She was like no one I had ever met before. We spent that whole night talking, laughing, drinking cocoa, and yes, a couple of snow-ball fights were thrown into the mix. I still remember the way her eyes lit up when she smiled, or talked about something she cared deeply for. I can still feel the way her fingertips pressed into my forearm as she told me her dreams with an intensity that made my heart shudder. We exchanged numbers before she left, with the knowledge that she would call the moment she got home.

She didn’t. I would like to think that if she could have, she would. Maybe we would have spent hours speaking on the phone, as we had in person. Maybe we would have met up again, over a cup of coffee. We did, after all, live in the same town, only a few blocks away from each other. It was a chance encounter, us both visiting family, and then friends. It was surprising that we had never met before, but no matter. She would never be able to make that call and I would never be able to call her.

That night, one of the engines on her plane froze. Just a few hours after we made plans, she was dead.

I still remember the way she looked that day, when she came in the door, dusted with  snowflakes.

(This is a story I wrote a few years ago. I haven’t done anything with it, but thought maybe you all would like it. So enjoy!)

Cherry Blossom photo: cherry blossom cherry_blossom.jpg

It twirled and danced across her vision, attracting her attention to it. It settled upon the bench next to her, after forcing her eyes to follow its leisurely movements. Once it had settled, she found herself wanting to touch it. Carefully, tenderly, she picked up the silken blossom and cupped it in her hand. It felt like silk brushing lightly across the flesh of her skin. She held it to her nose, curiosity causing her to inhale to see if she would scent the delicate, yet tangy aroma. It was faint.

The bracken smell of the ocean almost drowned out the scent of the small light pink flower. She held the flower for a moment longer before holding her hand up, level with her mouth, and exhaling gently. The blossom floated into the air in front of her and hovered, as if undecided, before it began to twirl and dance again. Soon it had joined its brethren as they raced for a spot in the heavens.

Her gaze drifted to the dark wood of the cherry trees in front of her. Many of the trees had already lost their delicate blossoms. Some still clung to the vain hope that the blossoms would stay with them forever. She could not help smiling at those trees. Nothing stays the same forever.

Almost as if a tidal wave swam over her, sounds and scents filled her senses. Her peaceful interlude shattered by the sudden scream of a seagull on its everlasting hunt for food. It had landed on the bench back, almost a foot away from her. Maybe it had been curious at what she held in her hand. No matter the reason, it was now outraged at her. It yelled, in its harsh voice, bird-like obscenities for a few seconds before spreading its wings and launching into flight. Its right wing brushed passed her face, filling her nose with a dusty brine smell.

Other birds circled overhead, each adding its voice to the cacophony. The breeze swept through branches, blossoms, wings, and sails creating a lulling music of its own to add to the morning sounds of traffic that seemed to swell magically from beyond the cherry trees.

Sighing, the young woman rose to her feet and began to walk back to her apartment. It was time to get ready for work.

Her morning walks had become a tradition since she moved to Tokyo, especially since she had yet to create a friendship out of her many acquaintances. The peace of the little park was the closest that she had gotten to feeling like she belonged.

From the moment she had moved all of her meager belongings into the tiny apartment, and glanced out the window at the park, next to the boat docks, she had been drawn to it. The statuesque cherry trees with their red-tinted green leaves and dark-skinned branches reaching ever heavenward, beckoned to her. Some part of her had yearned from that moment to be near them.

She walked carefully, trying to avoid the few cherry blossoms that had fallen to the ground. Something hard and black appeared in front of her so suddenly that she was unable to prevent colliding with it. In a second, she was sitting on the hard pavement of the walk-way. She turned her dark amber eyes up to meet the gaze of a man who was only a few years older than herself.

“Hey! Sorry about that!” He offered a black gloved hand to her, but in her surprise, she did not grab it.

“You speak English?” She asked, unable to restrain the shock from her voice.

He chuckled. “Yeah.”

Remembering her manners, she placed her small pale hand in his glove to be helped up. The moment her skin touched the leather of the glove she felt both the sharp pain of an electric shock and the heat of what she imagined was his hand.

He pulled her easily to her feet and grinned down at her, half of his mouth turning upward with the smile, a dimple appearing in his cheek.

“Actually, I have to tell you something.” He said, suddenly serious.

“What?”

“I knew you spoke English.” His light tanned skin took on a pinkish hue.

“What?” she asked more sharply.

His face flushed and he looked at the ground. “Yeah. I noticed you coming here a lot. So,” he shrugged, “I followed you sometimes. You speak to yourself sometimes.”

She frowned, not recalling any time that she had spoken to herself while sitting on the lonely bench. Nor could she remember ever seeing anyone. The trees were too narrow to hide behind. Other than the bench and trees, there was a lone garbage can. However, she doubted that he would have stooped to ducking behind a small squat can that would, of course, smell foul.

She shook her head, “who are you?” She had meant to ask “where were you,” but somewhere between her brain and her mouth, the transmission went haywire.

He chuckled again, a deep throaty sound that did not match his voice. “Damien.”

“Just Damien?”

He nodded, looking expectantly at her.

“My name is Blossom.” She held her hand out to him and they shook hands.

Grinning, he asked, “just Blossom?” She nodded a grin of her own pulling at her un-exercised mouth.

The sound of her watch alarm tore a soft cry from her mouth. “I have to go. I’m sorry.”

Damien looked perplexed. “Why?”

“My job!” She started running toward her apartment. “See you later.” She shouted over her shoulder.

*

Over the next several weeks, she concentrated on her job, but her mind would sometimes wander to the strange Damien at the park. She had gone back almost daily, but had not seen him.

The last of the cherry blossoms had finally been swept away by the steady breeze. The breeze itself carried the cold front over Tokyo. She had spent several days staring at the park, but unable to go out due to the chilling cold.

Other than Damien, she still hadn’t been able to connect with anyone at her job. The internet only made her long for home. She was seriously starting to doubt whether she had made the right choice in her life.

The sudden urge to travel to Japan had shocked her. But no one had seemed in the least bothered. Her parents and her brother had acted as if it were any normal day, when she had shown up at their house to tell them. She admitted silently that she had grown distant with them since going to college.

The strangest part of the whole thing was that her life had begun to stale in America; things seemed to lack color or interest. It was almost as if she suddenly did not belong there. Even the things that she was intimately familiar with seemed unnatural.

Then she dreamed of Japan. The dream started a new ambition and the days following it had changed her life considerably. She quit her job, bought tickets and let go of the rent on her apartment. She hadn’t even bothered to pack. The urge to go was so strong that she just grabbed the essentials and boarded the plane.

She had been lucky in finding a job, but it was an unmentionable and boring one. Her apartment was tiny. Her only possessions were a few outfits, a couple books and a picture of her family. She had made a huge leap from a young materialistic girl to a woman of few possessions and no understanding of why.

Then it happened. Almost a month after meeting Damien, she was looking out her window at the park. It was dark, but she could see the park clearly due to the lights of the city. The branches of the cherry trees swayed heavily in the strong gusting wind.

Then a light flickered around the trees, as if someone was running around carrying a lantern. The movement was sporadic. Then the light blinked out. It returned a few minutes later, leaving her staring at it in amazement as it made another round through the park before blinking out once again. The moment that the light flickered out that second time, she was overwhelmed with the urge to go to the park.

Before she was even aware of doing so, she had dressed in her thickest clothing and had the door open. She paused long enough to ask what she thought she was doing. But the urge pulled her through the door. She closed it and locked it behind her before half-jogging down the hall, down several floors of stairs, and into a cold alley.

She had never seen anything like the storm that seemed to be racing against New Tokyo. The streets were unnaturally empty. Almost as if on cue, the moment she noticed the lack of pedestrians, an old newspaper tumbled down the street. She had a moment where she noticed the unreality of the situation. The fact that there was a freak storm happening should have been enough to deter any sane person, yet there she was looking up and down the street, before jogging to the other sidewalk.

The closer she got to the park, the more intense the desire she felt to get there. She was in a full run by the time she was a block away from the park. She raced toward the trees as she passed the gate that led to the walkways that ringed the small park.

Finally, out of breath, and with her legs on fire, she reached the bench where she usually sat. She stared at it as if shocked that it was there before turning her eyes to the cherry trees that, as always, welcomed her. Almost as if the storm couldn’t touch the small park, there was no sign of even the lightest breeze. She looked at the tops of the trees and saw that their branches still swayed in a terrible rhythm matching the tempo of the storm.

Bringing her gaze back to the dark trunks of the trees, she took an automatic step backwards. Damien stood about three feet from her. He watched her with a sad smile on his face. At that moment, he looked world weary and aged, though his skin and body were full of youth.

“Good evening, Blossom.” He said in a formal voice.

“Damien, what’s-?”

“There is much to tell you, Blossom. But first, you need to understand that your coming here was no accident. My meeting you was no accident.” He paused as if waiting for something.

“Damien, what is going on?” Blossom asked, her heart suddenly pounding in her ears.

“You don’t recognize this place?” He asked, waving one hand at the small park. She shook her head. He again looked perplexed, the same look he had given her when she had run from the park in order to get to work. “This is your home.”

She shook her head. “Ok. This is not funny anymore. I’m going home.” She told him, then turned and started walking toward the gate.

“You can try.” He said, easily matching pace with her. She was unnerved, but didn’t complain. It was better walking with him, even if he could be crazy, than to walk back to her apartment alone. She almost could not believe that she had made the distance from her apartment to the park without meeting a single person or being mugged.

They reached the gate in silence. In the street beyond, it was apparent that the strange storm was still creating havoc. She started forward, but hesitated as Damien spoke.

“I know that this is weird to you. But your conscience has finally accepted it as truth or you would not be here. You were close to the truth the other day when you saw me.”

“What do you mean? What is the “truth” that you speak of?” She asked, looking at him over her shoulder.

“Your heart and mind have accepted it as truth, yet you still do not know.” He shook his head in awe. “Your ancestors are here, Blossom.”

“Yeah, my granpa was Japanese on my father’s side.”

“No. They live here, too.”

“You are nuts.” She said, her voice filling with awe and sorrow. She had hoped that she found a friend in Damien. If he was crazy then he probably needed to be institutionalized. A slight pained look crossed his face.

“I am nowhere near being crazy.” He said. His voice filled with pain. “I am just sorry that you do not remember.” He took a deep breath and held his hand out to her. “Remember now, Blossom. Remember the events of that night. Remember how your life changed.”

Light flashed turning everything glaringly white for a second. Something screamed in her ears. Then the light vanished and she stood staring at Damien. He looked at her expectantly. She shook her head.

“You really are nuts.” She stepped toward the gate.

“Remember.” He pleaded softly. Again the world flashed. She felt water on her face, cold and dank. She was on the hard pavement. Rain soaked through her hair and her clothing. Her arm throbbed angrily.

The memory seeped away slowly, frozen on the scene. She recognized the scene, but it seemed so long ago. She shook her hair out of her face, once again standing in the cherry tree park.

“What in the-.” She felt his hand touch her shoulder. She felt his skin through the thin cloth of her blouse. His skin was on fire. The world screamed and she along with it as she was jerked, painfully from where she stood…

 *

She slapped him, hard. “Whatever your problem is, I don’t want to deal with it. Go find another meal ticket!” She spat scathingly, her face contorted in rage. Her arm quivered with the pain that he had just inflicted.

“But baby, you know I didn’t mean it!” He whined, rain pouring down his too narrow face. As she stared at him, she realized that he looked like a rat more than a man.

“You didn’t mean it when you killed my baby either!” She screamed at him, no longer caring if her apartment neighbors called the cops. She had had it. She had been three months pregnant when he unleashed his drugged rage on her for not making enough money.

“Come on, baby.” He tried, his nasal twang aggravating her nerves. “I am sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“No more, Ryan.” She shook her head, her voice cold and dead. “No more. No drugs. No parties. No drinking. No games. No more handing you my paycheck so you can buy more… stuff!” She snapped the last word waving toward his veined arms. There, dotted along the length of his forearms were the signs of needles that had pierced his flesh. He had gone too far a few minutes earlier when he tried to pin her and inject her with his stuff. That had been the last straw.

“No, baby. Come on. You know I love you.”

“Bull, Ryan. You would sell me for another shot and you know it. Get lost.” She stepped back and slammed the door, locking it, in his face.

She was trembling terribly inside, her heart racing as her mind whirled. For a second, she wanted to open the door and rush outside. Maybe she could explain she was just tired. That it was just a momentary lapse. And he would hold her again tell her it was alright… but she couldn’t.

She would be free. Finally, she would be free of him. But she needed to remove temptation. She thought hard for a moment before an idea came to her that would solve all her problems. The first thing she needed to do was talk to her mom.

Tears sprang to her eyes as she thought of her loving wonderful mother. The woman she had been too embarrassed to see the last two years due to the scum she had just tossed to the curb. She wanted her mom, then, more than she had ever wanted anything in her life. She trotted up the stairs to her apartment, a giddy feeling filling her senses.

*

Her mother was overjoyed that Blossom would be coming home. Finally. For the first time in over two years. They would have the happy reunion that they had both been longing for.

Blossom was happily packing her things and humming, actually humming. She was free. She felt lighter than a feather. She had not seen Ryan since the bitter fight two nights earlier. And first thing in the morning, she would be going home. She would never leave her family again, she swore happily. She thought she could even bear her brothers obnoxious attitude and creepy friends.

As she tucked the last blouse into the suitcase, she heard the door open. She turned, her mouth hanging open. There was no way. No one would have let him back into the apartment. Everyone had been trying to get her to leave him for a year. Especially after he killed her unborn child. Everyone had even pooled together to buy her a ticket home.

There was even going to be a farewell party in the morning. That was the only sad blip on the radar screen of her future.

Ryan stood in the doorway, a pistol in hand. “Come on.” He told her coldly. His beady eyes flashing. She opened her mouth to scream when a loud crack ripped at her ears. Pain filled her head and her arm at the same moment. Looking down, she was amazed to see blood pooling slowly from the newly made hole above her elbow. The tangy metallic scent of blood filled her nostrils.

Ryan grabbed her unwounded arm. “Come on.” He cursed, jerking her from the room. He had to shout to be heard over the thunder in her ears. A neighbor peered around the door jam. Another loud crack tore at her ears. Terror built in the pit of her stomach as she was dragged roughly from the apartment building. She could hear sirens in the distance but knew that they would not get there in time. The last time Ryan had been like that he almost killed her. She had spent three days in the hospital while her injuries healed. That had only been a month earlier.

He threw her to the ground. Her useless arm hit first. She felt a strange pull on her skin as a different kind of “crack” registered. Pain flared more intensely in her arm.

“You stupid little-.” She never heard the rest of the comment. She knew he was just ranting, but his anger forced him to squeeze the trigger as he waved it. She felt the bullet enter her chest, piecing her flesh with a searing heat.

The rain fell, pummeling her rapidly cooling skin. It soaked her clothing and her hair. There was a distant sound of screaming, as if a car was racing away from her.

*

Blossom screamed again, hitting the hard pavement of the path. She was not surprised that she didn’t feel anything. Everything fell into place. Her parents’ detached response to her; they had not even known she was there. The transformation from materialistic to simplicity. All of it. It made sense.

The only clothes in her closet were the two outfits that had been with her when her life changed. The outfit from the night of her fight and the one from the night that she…

The books that were in her apartment were the ones that she remembered almost word for word from her childhood. The photo of her family. The most important things in her life had come with her on her trip to Japan. The strange thing was that she could not remember the flight from America to Japan. She could not remember getting a green card, which was necessary for her to travel.

“Why?” She whispered. She did not look up at Damien. She could not.

“You finished your time.” Damien said softly. He brushed her smooth black hair away from her face. “You belong here, with us.”

She glanced at him then. He was kneeling next to her. Behind him, people were emerging from the cherry trees. All looked sad, pained, and worried. They moved slowly, as if unsure what they could do for her.

She turned her dark amber eyes back on Damien. “What happened to him? Does my mom know? How did I get here-? “Damien placed a finger against her lips and smiled softly.

Damien frowned. “Your mom knows.” A pained expression flashed across his face. “She misses you, terribly.”

She swallowed fighting the tears that threatened to spill down her cheeks.

“He was caught that night. The cops were able to block the entrances to the alley. You… you died on the way to the hospital.”

Blossom digested that for a few minutes. “Who are they?” She motioned to the people who had gathered several feet away from herself and Damien.

“Your family.” He said softly.

“And you?”

“I was your soulmate.” He said in a heavy voice.

“What happened to you?” She asked, shocked.

His voice thickened as he spoke, “I was hit by a car that was trying to flee the cops.”

“You were-.” She gaped.

“I was there.” He nodded slowly. “I was supposed to save you.”

“Oh god.” She whispered.

Damien only nodded. Together they sat, surrounded by their ancestors. A low, steady hum broke out. The storm beyond the gate seemed to die away.

The last cherry blossom broke away from the branch of a cherry tree. It danced slowly, its blossom quivering in a sad dance. It swayed back and forth for a moment, before settling on the empty sidewalk.

A second later, the sun broke over the horizon lighting the busy street as it heralded the new morning.

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