Grasping These Fleeting Memories
The pearly white sands of the beach were spotted in miniature clamshells and grey pebbles. The ocean waves rhythmically approached, broke, and withdrew. With every motion, the steady waves dampened the sand, slowly dragged away silt, and eroded memories. The pleasant ocean wind caressed the land, announcing the arrival of a sunset that painted the skies and clouds in countless shades of red and orange. The sun cast its rays on the quiet beachfront, causing the land to softly glow with vibrant colors of life.
The only signs of life were three figures running down the untouched scenery in glee. With their left sides facing the radiant sunset, they cast long, smiling shadows across the white sand.
“Mommy! Mommy! Look what I found!”
A child in a miniature flower-patterned kimono raced towards half-buried objects in the sand. Picking them out, she found a weathered Tanabata lantern with faint flower patterns on its surface. Sheltered within the antique lantern was a faded flower-patterned diary.
The young girl picked up her newly acquired treasures and raced towards the figure closest to her.
Greeting the girl was a woman of 30 with hard eyes. Her dark brown hair was naturally curved and reached slightly below her shoulders. Her windswept hair was softly carried by the ocean breeze; flying around and celebrating their brief, unrestrained freedom. Her face was mature and beautiful but tired. She looked like she was enjoying life.
“Hai hai, what did you find? Treasure? Go show your daddy.”
The child happily ran towards the third figure, who was sitting behind the two, watching with interest.
“Daddy! Daddy! Look what I found! Treasure!”
“Hmm? Let me see.”
The child joyfully handed her new prizes to her father before skipping away to scour the beach for more adventure.
“She sure is energetic, isn’t she, Haruto?”
Before the father had a chance to investigate his daughter’s finds, his wife approached him.
“She gets excited for Tanabata for some reason.”
“I don’t blame her, I do too.”
“Both of you treat Tanabata with some special meaning. I know you explained it to me but I still don’t quite understand.”
“That’s all right. Even if you don’t remember, we can always redefine this Tanabata with a new meaning. It is the first Tanabata we’re experiencing since we moved back to Japan after all.”
Through her research in neurology, Dr. Sawako Fujiwara was able to stabilize her husband Haruto’s condition, allowing him to form new memories, although he wasn’t able to recall old, lost ones. For this among many contributions, Sawako became a leading figure in neurology and medicine.
“What would the media think about you wasting time here, watching our kid collect trash, when they expect you to be researching a cure for cancer or something, Sawako-san? I could see the headlines now, ‘Sawako-san decides picking up trash is more important than saving lives’ or something”
“Haa… Who cares what other people think. They’re always judging and shoving their nose everywhere. It’s Tanabata, I’m happy to ignore them and watch the sunset with you instead. They always think the next big breakthrough is near and keep pushing me to do things. Seriously, what are they? Fate? And plus, they don’t write something as informal as ‘Sawako-san’ like you do.”
Haruto watched Sawako’s hair freely twirled around in the cool ocean breeze as she faced the setting sun with a familiar half-grin.
“Ah, she ran out of view. Haa… serious, what will I do with you two...”
Sawako chased her child as she ventured out.
“Well, there they go…”
Haruto watched as his family ran around, laughing and playing.
“Ah, I almost forgot these were here...”
He grasped the lantern and the diary that felt faintly familiar.
“Hmm? There's a message on here.”
On the lantern was a faded scribble of waterproof, permanent marker. Haruto was just barely able to read it.
“I hope you watch the fireworks with me, love you!”
He read it again but was unable to understand it, but he felt that it was warm and close to heart, as if it was written by a person that put her soul into the message.
Haruto flipped through the old flower-patterned diary, trying his best to make out what it said but the sea tides had eroded too much of its meaning to be eligible.
The only thing he could make out were faint tear stains scattered throughout pages, like stars in the sky.
Haruto’s brain and heart ached. He felt confused, tired, and lost. He couldn’t make sense of anything. He was spiraling down an abyss of uncertainty; thinking, pondering, and wondering why his heart was crying.
As he dipped lower into the insanity of doubt, a voice rang out.
“Haruto? Are you ok?”
Haruto looked up. In front of him was a woman of-
No, it was Sawako. She was carrying their child with both arms and looking at him with concern.
“Mommy, Mommy! Daddy is crying!”
Haruto looked at their faces. Those faces of concern pained him. They seemed so familiar. He knew them. Haruto and Sawako stared into each other’s eyes. They were like Orihime and Hikoboshi meeting each other, or perhaps that’s wrong. Orihime and Hikoboshi couldn’t compare to them. They have long been surpassed.
“No, these are happy tears.”
Their child got off of Sawako’s arms and ran to her father, standing on her toes to reach his face and wipe away his tears.
Haruto gave the child a brief, heartfelt hug before turning to his wife, Sawako.
🌠 🌠 🌠
“Want to watch the fireworks together, Sawako-chan?”
🌠 🌠 🌠