Goodbye Japan… for now

By bluemist on July 23rd, 2007

It was just a year ago. How time flies.

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Natsuki Aoshima

By bluemist on July 7th, 2007

Something fell in my hair.

It was a cherry blossom. They keep falling when the wind blows stronger. They were beautiful as usual. Of course, because it’s springtime. I look up into the sky. It was a light blue. Not much clouds today. Just a wide, wide sight of blue. It’s times like these that I always remind myself of something strange.

What if cherry blossoms were blue?

How would blue cherry blossoms look like? Would it be as lovely as the usual light pink color? Won’t blue blossoms go well with that blue sky? But if it were of the same color, would I even see them falling? Ah, I know, how about a shade lighter? Blue which is a bit whiter than the blue sky? Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t that be nice… Natsuki?

“Natsuki!?”

“!”
“…”
“…uhh… a dream?”

I wake up with almost the same dreams as so many days. Today, as I ready myself for yet another day of school, I reflect on what my dreams mean. Well, I already know anyway, these are of my past. I would just wonder why, why I keep seeing these dreams. It is as if Natsuki wants me to do something. Well yes, Natsuki, I’m doing something. Those seeds, I’m planting them over at the riverside. I hope you’ll see them bloom someday. I’m not sure if that’s what you wanted though. Blue cherry blossoms… are they even possible?

“They should be. Papa said it to me, that he can make cherry blossoms blue someday. It was a promise, that’s why they should be. Papa can do it!”
“Really?”
“Yes!”
“I hope we’ll see it someday.”

I hope so. It would take some years to find out, but I will wait. There’s nothing else I can do now but wait. I laid it all on the ground, here. I’m not even sure if they would bear anything, or grow any big. Your father, he asked me to do it, saying he still wasn’t sure of the formula. He and your mother… they were crying then. I could not ask more questions. Actually, I have to apologize for something. Sorry, Natsuki. Sorry, I took so long. Sorry that I took so long to plant these seeds. Because I was weak. I thought that once I plant these seeds, I’ll never ever see you again. I’ve seen the plants either die in a few months, or no sprout at all. To me, you were these seeds. Well, it just sounds foolish now. I guess I’m just clinging on to every single part that reminds me of you. I don’t want to let you go. But…

…you are gone now anyway.

“Thank you, Sakurai.”
“Hm?”
“…for yesterday.”
“Oh, that’s no problem at all, but… you still haven’t told me many things.”
“Huh? Like what?”
“Like, what kind of seeds they are, or why you’re planting them there…”
“Why do I have to tell you so many details?”
“… or… umm… why you’re c-c-cr.”
“Discussion over.”

I quickly left his desk. Sometimes he pisses me off. Well, at least I know he doesn’t mean anything bad. In due time, Sakurai Hiroyuki. I have to let you know someday. But for now, I have to endure a lot of things. It’s… over, I guess. Everything’s over. As I try to focus on the teachers doing the lessons of the day, it would always haunt me, every second. That was it. The literal equivalent of burying her. It’s also like burying my memories of her. What was I supposed to hope for now? Would I hope that these sad memories would bloom and hopefully turn into happy memories? Or would I see nothing at all, and with that, burying those memories and locking it away for as long as I live. I’m confused. I feel like crying again, but my tears are not falling. Maybe they emptied out. Just like that time…

“Don’t cry, Miya! Please don’t cry…”
“But… but you’re crying too…”

I still remember your eyes. They were of a light blue. A blank, light blue. With that light blue color mixed with the sparkle of your tears, you looked at me. I believed you looked at me that time… I believed you saw me that time. Thank you, Natsuki. I’m so sorry.

“Good for you.”
“…? Ah, thank you very much, Shiho.”
“Or at least I think it’s good for you. Seeds or no seeds, you can’t just lock away your memories by giving symbolism to your action. Planting them would never seal your emotions… right?”
“…”
“Let me tell you something, Miya. You can’t just blame yourself for everything that happens in this world. It was fate. Even you told me so.”
“But! I keep thinking to myself. I can’t help but think that I could have done something! If only I did! If only I…”
“Miya! Stop!”

Shiho… my friend. I guess she really cares about me. I know, I know I should stop keeping myself busy with these things, but I can’t go back. I can’t go back to being alone.

“I can’t pretend to know how you feel, but at the very least take care of your health. You don’t even need to help me with these papers…”
“I’m… all right.”
“No you are not. Go home and eat dinner properly. Oh, yeah, I think I can go this Friday, but I it still depends on my parents…”
“…please, Shiho, it’s okay. You don’t have to go through so much…”
“…”
“I’m okay, I really am.”
“… I understand.”

No one should do anything for my sake. I have to take care of myself. Shiho, even though she has to take care of her weak grandfather, and with all her Student Council duties, she still tries to find time to cook meals and eat together at home. I don’t know how she can handle it. I guess I’m really weak. Being a class representative is already hard enough, but I have to bear it. Without it… I can’t be at peace. I don’t want it to happen again. I don’t want it…

As I went home, seeing the once-blue sky turn orange, I was visibly shaken. It is as if I reached that threshold. That change in my life. But then I realized that tomorrow, this sky will be blue again. Memories of that color will never end. All I can do now is remember the happy, bright times more than the sad. I remember those everydays. In the province. In that field. Nothing and everything happening at the same time. We were always smiling. Grass everywhere, sky always blue, those beautiful trees by the distance. Those beautiful cherry blossom trees. We would always sit in a spot, that old log beside an old warehouse. The warehouse would always direct the wind to us. It was always cool and breezy. So windy, sometimes it’s so hard to hold my drawing paper. But you liked the wind. It was your element. You liked to fly kites and fold paper airplanes. Oh, yeah, you fold a lot of things. You had a way with paper. I even recall that we fought about it. I wanted to draw on a blank sheet, you wanted to fold it. We pulled the paper away from each other, arguing and almost crying… but it quickly tore apart! Then, we giggled and laughed! Hahaha! Such fond memories. In the end, I got to draw a cat on one of the pieces of paper, you got to fold and form the rest… also a cat. We were so young.

Natsuki, she was the energetic one, I was the frail one. We were like sisters. I was raised in an orphanage, never knowing who my parents are. One day, they just came, the Aoshima family. They took me in and treated me as family. At first I was completely shy. Yes, I wasn’t able to call my foster parents as papa or mama, just uncle, just auntie. Even though they weren’t my parents, they were so good to me. They were scientists, and back then I didn’t understand much about their profession. They only told me that they can make new kinds plants and trees, including flowers. Me and Natsuki, we enjoyed the family greenhouse. It was filled with so many colors of flowers, with so many shapes. Some beautiful, some odd. Because I loved to draw, uncle bought me a drawing set with lots of colors. I would either sketch the flowers that are there already, or I would try to invent my own… our own actually, Natsuki and me. She would fold paper into flower-like shapes, I would color them. Uncle and auntie were quite amused.

Some years pass. It started to dawn upon me. Uncle… he hit me for the very first time. Figures, I said something stupid back then. I was jealous. Yes I was. Looking back, I had no right to be. I was just an orphan. They were not my real parents. But there I was, wondering everyday why uncle and auntie were always at their laboratory. As time passed, they looked busier and busier all the time. They looked indifferent to me. While uncle and auntie had the biggest smile towards Natsuki. They start to favor her over me, at least that’s what I thought at the time. He gave her new toys almost everytime. Me… I only get more drawing paper. It was my birthday when I snapped.

“Drawing paper again…”
“Huh? What’s wrong Miya? You have this new drawing set too…”
“Why do I always get drawing paper… uncle?! I want toys like Natsuki has!”
“But Miya, Natsuki’s toys are your toys too!”
“Auntie, it’s not! It’s not!”
“Alright Miya, don’t cry, here, I’ll buy you this same doll tomorrow, it’s a promise…”
“NO! You always give Natsuki toys! You don’t give me toys! You love Natsuki more than me! You love Natsuki more than me!”
*SLAP*

Natsuki was just there by my side, crying. I was completely wrong of course, and in hindsight, partly at fault. I was a timid, shy person. Everytime uncle asks me what gift I wanted, I would just stay quiet and crawl behind auntie. Natsuki, she speaks her mind completely. She says what she wants. Uncle and auntie… they can only know what I want because I love drawing. That’s why they always gives me drawing sets. And it’s not like I only got paper for my birthday. Uncle actually bought me the best drawing set I had yet. So many pencils with new colors. I guess I didn’t notice that and got angry so easily. With me calming down, I was so happy with my gift. Natsuki, she never hesitated to give me her dolls to play along with. We were still sisters. I was so happy. Maybe because I know that my doubts were wrong, and that uncle and auntie treated us equally. Uncle, he hugged me immediately after hitting me. That night though… auntie cried too. I saw them when I took a peek at their room before I slept. I can never forget what they talked about.

“Mama, please. Don’t think that way.”
“I know! I know, but… I can’t help but think that I may really have chosen between them.”
“Don’t say that. I should know, we didn’t fail to take care of them equally…”
“…”
“… it’s just that… we have to take care of Natsuki more from now on. We can’t just rest…”
“Papa… I’m scared. I’m scared that we may not be able to find it.”
“We’ll find it. Soon enough. It will be alright, Mama… it will be…”

Suddenly I heard a loud crash. Uncle threw some glass into an empty wall. He looked scared, and embraced auntie, almost crying as well. I never understood what it meant then. When I called on them asking what’s wrong, they just hugged me and said everything will be alright. I asked what were they trying to find.

“Miya, we were just trying to find something important for Natsuki. Don’t worry, we will find it, and when we find it, everybody will be happy. You, me, your auntie, and Natsuki. Everyone will be happy.”

“Papa told me about that something important too!”
“Really Natsuki? What is it?”
“Umm… I don’t really know but… Ah!”
“?”
“Maybe it’s the blue cherry blossoms!”
“Blue… cherry blossoms? But they’re always pink! Is it possible?”
“They should be. Papa said it to me, that he can make cherry blossoms blue someday. It was a promise, that’s why they should be. Papa can do it!”
“Really?”
“Yes!”
“I hope we’ll see it someday.”

Happy memories, sad memories. They are all connected. I can’t just lock up the sad ones. I can’t remember the happy times more than the sad. It is not the answer. The seeds won’t mean anything in the end, nor does my act of planting it. Natsuki, you will only always be in my heart. Along with all the happiness and the sadness that I had with you. Even if those seeds won’t bloom. I still believe that we did. We were the ones who created the blue cherry blossoms. Together, we made the cherry blossoms blue.

Time passes. It is Natsuki’s birthday.

“Happy birthday… Natsuki.”

I’m staring at an empty grave. We didn’t find Natsuki’s body. Yet we cannot cling to hope that she’s still alive. It was cruel. Fate wasn’t fair to her. Fate wasn’t fair at all.

“How did she…”
“…”
“Miya?”
“…by the earthquake.”
“Oh… that earthquake.”
“…”
“…”
“Hiroyuki?”
“… oh yes, sorry, it’s nothing.”
“This is an empty grave actually. We weren’t able to find her body. She fell into the river.”
“… I’m so sorry.”

I just smiled at Hiroyuki.

“Well, the blossoms aren’t blue, but here.”
“?”

Petals from the cherry blossom trees we planted? I bet Hiroyuki just dyed them blue. He even arranged them to look like flowers. How sweet. This is why I love him so much. He can just make the best things in the world.

“So… why do you give my sister something so nice… and not me? It’s my birthday too, you know.”
“Huh? Is it? Eehh… aaahhh…”
“… hmph!”
“Hahaha! I’m just kidding. Here.”

We did it too you know. We created blue cherry blossoms.

“Don’t cry, Miya! Please don’t cry…”
“But… but you’re crying too…”
“Miya? Did you color it blue?”
“Yes, Natsuki… I made it. We made it blue.”
“Miya… thank… you…”
“…”
“…”
“Natsuki… Natsuki? Natsuki?! Natsuki!!! Natsukiiiiiii!!!!”

Something fell in my hair. It was a cherry blossom. It came in from my window. I hear a female voice calling my name outside.

“Miya! I’m here!”

Shiho rarely comes during the morning so I was quite surprised. Oh… it’s actually summer break.

“Ah, I know! Why don’t you keep busy with something else? It doesn’t have to be stressful you know, like being the class representative.”
“… but…”
“Remember Miya, I’m not at school anymore when classes start again.”
“… I know.”
“How about a boyfriend?”
“… EHHH?!?”
“I’ve been hearing rumors, you know, that guy Sakurai. He’s not bad.”
“T-t-there’s nothing between me and Sakurai!”
“Oh reeeealllyy?”
“He’s just… he’s just, you know, he just did things for me, like shopping for that school festival, like, like, remember those cherry blossom trees we planted?”
“Lemme see, he helps you with your class rep duties. He cooks you lunch… hahaha! I don’t understand how cursed you are towards cooking.”
“Please don’t remind me of that… it was terrible.”
“Yeah, but still… it was Sakurai, right?”
“…”
“He’s definitely interested in you!”
“Definitely not!”
“He is!”
“He’s not!”
“Do you like him?”
“What kind of question is that?”
“You KNOW what kind of question it is! So?”
“…”
“…”
“I don’t care about that… right now.”
“Huh?”
“I don’t care about that, you know, all the falling in love stuff. I’m just not thinking about it right now.”
“There you go again.”
“… sorry.”
“Everytime there’s something good about to happen in your life, you always fall back to whatever your personal trauma is.”
“… sorry.”
“Sometimes I don’t believe you. Even if I’m your friend, I still don’t know what’s going on inside your head. Listen, Miya. Natsuki is not an excuse anymore. I can tell. You have clearly moved on. Can’t you say to me what is really wrong this time?”
“… sorry… I really can’t tell.”
“…”
“… I’m so sorry Shiho, but this is something I have to endure for myself. Just one thing… please don’t leave me. Don’t stop being my friend even if I’m hiding this secret from you…”
“You know I just can’t leave you alone. I was just hoping that I can help. I’m just sad that I can’t be of any help.”
“Thank you. It means so much to me.”

She is right. I have moved on. Natsuki’s death, that’s not it. This is something worse. If somebody else knew about it… everything will turn bad. Everything. One more year. One more year, and it’s over. Over. I can run away. I have to be strong. This is it. I have come this far. One, more, year. Yes. One… more…

“One more year.”
“No… oh no…”

I saw auntie crying again. I was crying too, as I heard from the other class that my sister just fainted. I thought that she was just tired this morning. She was rushed to the hospital shortly after. I wasn’t allowed to see her.

“Miya, listen carefully. Your sister… s-she has a sickness in the eye. But it’s not a sickness that can be cured. It can’t be cured. And what’s more…”

Auntie wasn’t able to complete what she was trying to say, but I already knew then when I heard the doctors. Natsuki… she has a rare kind of disease. Her blindness will only be the beginning. She only has one year left… to live. Uncle and auntie, they tried their best. They knew about Natsuki’s disease for a long time now, and they have been researching about a cure ever since. Something important. Back then I didn’t realize how important that was.

I was young. All I can do back then was to keep Natsuki happy. She was hospitalized for that entire year. I can only visit her after school. All I can do back then was draw for her. I drew so many things. Flowers, trees, airplanes, I even drew the school. One day, when I showed her my latest sketch…

“But Miya, I don’t see anything.”
“Huh?”
“I don’t see anything there…”
“Natsuki? Natsuki?!”

She just fainted all of a sudden. When she woke up, doctors tried to test her sight. It was fading. She’s slowly unable to see anything. I can’t even imagine how that feels like. To me, I need colors and lines whenever I draw something. Natsuki told me how it looked like.

“It looks like just shapes and colors. When you showed me your paper, I only see a white square.”
“… Natsuki…”

I cried while holding up that piece of blank paper, but Natsuki, she took the paper. And without looking at it, she started to fold the paper. She molded it into a boat and gave it to me. I later showed the paper boat to Auntie. She started crying again. A few days later, it gets worse. It was almost the eve of Natsuki’s birthday. Auntie, crying while holding Natsuki tight, suddenly felt her chest tightening. She was having a heart attack. Everyone scrambled. I called the doctors. Natsuki asked me what happened, but she knew that something was wrong with auntie. Natsuki… she started to cry… and… she’s holding her chest tightly too.

I tried to hold Natsuki, hug her, but I know there’s nothing I can do. This is it. With tears still flowing in my eyes, she asked me for one last favor…

“p-paper… paper…”
“… y-yes Natsuki, here, paper…”
“…”
“…”
“…”
“Natsuki? That’s…….”
“B-b-l… bl-ue…”

I immediately knew what she was trying to do.

“Don’t cry, Miya! Please don’t cry…”
“But… but you’re crying too…”
“Miya? Did you color it blue?”
“Yes, Natsuki… I made it. We made it blue.”
“Miya… thank… you…”
“…”
“…”

====================
(epilogue here)
“Hello…”
“Uncle? It’s been so long!”
“What’s wrong?”
“…”
“!”
“No… no… it’s impossible!”

TO BE CONTINUED