Along The Way (途中で)
The raindrops came as a million soul fragments in a chorus together, cascading steady and soft from the sky of grey velvet. As I placed each step walking forward, I could feel the coldness of each raindrop falling on my skin, as if there was a fire inside of me that was locked in a cage, but has melted the bars. I stride onwards, my eyes blinded by the heavy rain, seeking the rainbows given by the light to keep moving forward.
I stretched my right arm forward, as the flashing sheets of cold droplets traced paths on my skin.
“This brings back memories…”
Each of the water-traced paths were the same, and they sang those same old memories, of the squandered love, and those hopes of the already lost future. That’s why I hate both the rain and the photographs, for both never sing the perfect moments, but of the time that will never coming back.
I could smell of a wave, a little one, but at first so strong that I felt like I was going to be swept away. They come at such random moments, replacing a feeling of normalcy with those unfamiliar tears. Yet when those waves lessen, they allow for waves of grief and regret, those times with the scent of bitter lemon.
Two years ago on a similar day, when the rain came to greet the earth with the splendour of their music and the sensation of flow, I lost someone, I dear friend of mine, because of me. His name was Kaoru Nagisa, who looked exactly like Akihiko-kun, only difference is that he had long uneven hair up to his shoulders, and his eyes were black, that told the poetry of the universe in moments, moments that were weaved together to form a fabric brighter than the stars in the night sky.
Even though it was only for a year or something, I enjoyed the time I spent with him very much, soaking into the moments as if each were a warm and fragrant bubble bath. We were in different classes during our first year in middle school, so we had never met during that time. It was during our second year when we were both in the same class for the first time, and for some reason, we quickly grew close to each other.
We would spend our weekends together like going out, watching movies at the theatre, or studying together in the library.
And if I had to point out any one moment in my life that had ever anchored my soul, creating a tether to this plane of reality, it was the moments I had spent with him.
When I spent time with Kaoru, it was as if space and time become the finest point imaginable, and time collapsed into one tiny speck and exploded in fury. Slowly, though I never realized when, it was like my universe began and ended with him. I could run forever, search forever, but in the end, every path led right back to his heart and soul. I guess everyday in my life in those times were very precious to me, and I wanted to cherish them forever. But after that day, that particular day, everything had changed, those moments that were meant to be cherished reached out to the ether, or maybe got lost on the high waves in the most unpredictable emotional storm.
It was a Wednesday, just like any other usual day. The sky was cloudy from morning, the sun-kissed white clouds taking deeper graphite tone in the blue free sky, though it didn’t seem that we could expect a downpour anytime soon.
I had planned to take Kaoru to the movie theater today, as there as a movie premiering today which I was eagerly waiting to watch. But I doubt we would be able to go today, if it suddenly starts raining out of nowhere.
During our recess, when we were having our meal together in the cafeteria, I told Kaoru about my plans for today.
“There is a new movie premiering today, so I bought tickets for the both of us…” I took a small bite from the bread before finishing, after which I continued, “But I guess we can’t go to the theatre if it starts raining.”
“Well, you should have told me it beforehand.” Kaoru huffed. “Though we wont be able to go today, just like you said.”
“Sigh. I guess I will just have to cancel today’s plan then.” I replied.
“Well if it doesn’t rain then we don’t have to cancel it, right?” He asked with a little bit of encouragement.
“But…” I was going to turn down the plan for good, but before I could finish he interrupted.
“No buts. If you want to go, then I have no complaints, I’ll just tag along.”
And after all the classes were over, there was still no sign of rain, so we both headed for the theatre like he said. It’s always like this, if he ever said something then even nature couldn’t stop him on his path.
We both got on a bus from the nearest bus stop to the school. The bus was quite crowded, barely managing to to find a space for us to stand together. While the bus moved onwards, we both would occasionally rock left and right as the bus bumped and turned, as if we were in a great silver cradle. As I held onto the strap hanger tightly while gazing at our fading reflection on the bus window, overlapping with the parade of city buildings passing by. After a while my right hand had become red for holding the strap tightly, so I switched hands, grabbing it with my left, and eventually with both my hands after that.
The clouds have gotten darker, and the glimmers of the stray rays of light that were peeking through the cracks between the clouds have stopped coming. The city now seemed like it was covered with a dark curtain. I wished if we could reach the theatre before the clouds swirl to the grounds, though my prayers didn’t seem to have reached to the vantage in this case. Just after we had reached the final stop, the clouds broke down to a heavy downpour, with a grizzly melody playing along the raindrops. Both of us quickly got off the bus and took shelter under the bus stop.
Kaoru drew in a long breath and said, “The rain doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon.”
I looked at my wrist watch. The theatre is still a bit far away, and we have to make run for the whole path in the rain if we don’t want to miss the movie.
“What should we do then?” I asked desperately, while looking back at him.
Kaoru didn’t listen, rather shoved my words aside and sneered around the place. Suddenly he looked back at me and said, “Lets make a run for it.”
I clenched my teeth as I looked at him, “Wait, what do you mean?”
“Stay here, I will back in no time.” Saying that, Kaoru quickly made his way to the convenience store just around the corner of the block.
“What is he thinking?” I hollered while passing my feet on the ground, my black shoes making a gentle pitter-patter on the stone-flecked grey. After some time, he came out from the store, while holding two umbrellas with him.
He handed over one of the umbrellas to me, “We don’t that much time, right? If we hurry, then we might just make it to the theatre in time”
I nodded my head in response as I grabbed the umbrella from his hand, and then curled mine around the handle, as the canopy stretched above me as if it were the blossoms of a rainforest.
“Shall we go then?” He said, while I just nodded my head in response. Kaoru held his hand to me, while I grab onto it, as I could feel a flash of heat on hand, in the cold wind that whipped about my ether and chilled my skin, and started running towards the theatre.
The road was filled with colourful umbrellas, upon which came the playful sounds of the dancing drops. And as the rain became more intense, my eyes were blinded by the silver-blueish hue of the pouring rain, swirling steadily and radiating the headlights of the cars in its ripples.
“I guess we should’ve canceled today’s plan anyway.” Kaoru asked, while were standing by the side of a road, waiting for the traffic lights to go green so that we can go to the other side.
To be honest, I was actually glad that we came anyway. It was a first for me, to have felt a calmness while running with Kaoru in the rain. Walking among those drops, while holding his soft hands, and his fingers wrapped around mine as if a new spring foliage, was like a rumination to me, a way to fully become present in the moment and enjoy it.
To me, it wasn’t a wrong choice coming to watch movie today with Kaoru, not at all. I was happy, really happy that we came nonetheless. But for some reason, I just couldn’t tell him that, I just couldn’t make my mind and tell him what I truly felt.
“It was you who made the call to not cancel it, remember?” I squelched, while looking at the water droplets cascade from the umbrella rims like a beautiful waterfall.
Kaoru sulked, “Well we can’t do anything about that now.”
Just after he said that, the traffic lights became green, allowing us to cross the road. Kaoru grabbed my hand again, as we started crossing the road. The rain has gotten even more intense, and it was like we were surrounded by a sliver hued curtain with little flickering designs of white and red lights, impossible to even see what was in front of us. It was just the two of us, walking in the heavy rain together as we were holding each others hands, the only thing I could feel was the warmth of his soft hands that had gently grabbed onto mine.
One moment, when were just by the edge of the road, when all of a sudden, there was a truck approaching right towards us. The headlights reflected from the millions of ripples of water drops revered a sudden chill from my ears to the toes of my foot. As it was hard to see anything afar, we only noticed it when it came very close to us. My mind froze, and though it was just for a moment, the thought of death suddenly crossed by mind, when suddenly Kaoru lets go of my hand and pushed me away. After that, I heard a loud sound as I fell to the ground.
My arms were shivering, my heart beating fast, and I couldn’t find the strength to stand on my legs. I looked in front, only to be terrified by the sight I saw. In the cold air catered by the sweet smell of the rain, the smell of blood was vividly pennant to my nose. Even in the heavy rain, the road was covered in red as if someone spilled a can of paint on the road.
“Someone, someone help!” I screamed on top of my lungs, looking for someone, anyone who could help. My skin was suddenly taking a pale look, like it was painted with white-wash, while my eyes were becoming bleary. Then with one step forward, I tumbled down like the pieces of blocks of a jenga tower. My eyes were going black, and my voice not coming out from my throat any more, and I could barely feel my fingers as they were going numb. But just before I lost my consciousness, I saw a person, a woman, running towards us while screaming.
It was like I fell to a deep slumber, and the next time I woke up, I was lying in the hospital bed, my mom sitting right beside me.