‘Why are you sulking alone in here?’
What? Who is this? Where am I? Lights… I see a lot of lights… and people… foreigners… I’m sitting on a couch… It doesn’t look like I’m in Japan. Oh yeah… I’m in Switzerland. I came here with my father six days ago. I’m in the lobby of our hotel. But who is this girl? what is she saying?
‘Why are you sulking alone in here?’
‘What? What do you mean? Who are you? What do you want?’
‘Ahh… So many questions! I’ll answer only one of them. The last one.’
‘I want your help.’
‘Wha… My help? How?’
‘You see, I’m lost. And I need your help to get to the back of the hotel.’
‘To the hillside?’
This hotel was a resort built right next to the Lucerne Lake, so to the backside of the hotel was a pretty good spot at the ridge of the hill to look at the view, or so I’ve heard at least, I haven’t seen it myself yet. But what I don’t understand is how the hell could someone wound up all the way here from there if they’re lost? Anyway, I’d rather not make this my problem.
‘Shouldn’t you should ask an adult for help instead.’
‘No way! My parents said never to go anywhere with a stranger.’
‘But I’m a stranger too, you know.’
‘But you’re a kid, so it’s okay.’
What kind of logic is that?
‘What difference does it make? I’m still a stranger.’
‘Yeah, but you won’t be able to fool me, because we’re of the same age.’
She looks to me like the type who would be fooled by a five-year-old.
‘Then why don’t you ask any of the hotel staff?’
‘My English isn’t good enough for that, and would you just stop nagging and help me already?’
What a pain!
‘Why do you wanna go to the back of the hotel anyway?’
‘Because that’s where I spent most of my time in the last six days. If I get there, I could find my way back to my room. I think.’
‘You think? Ah… Why not just go to your room directly?’
‘I won’t tell you what room I’m staying in, even if you are a kid.’
‘Why? You think I’m gonna start stocking you or something?’
‘Gosh! You ask so many questions! Just come with me already!’
She grabbed my hand and dragged me along with her without my consent. I couldn’t resist her. At that age, girls are almost as strong as boys, to me, she seemed stronger. Whether it was her physical strength or willpower that was stronger than me, I didn’t know, I couldn’t think about it at that time, because the only thing that was going through my head was…
‘Hey! That’s… that’s not how it works! Wasn’t I supposed to take you somewhere? Hey! Will you stop for a second? Hey!’
Not listening to my cries, lost in her own world she kept dragging me until we ended up somewhere none of us recognized.
‘Huh? Where are we now?’
‘You tell me! You’re the one who dragged us here!’
‘You mean you don’t know where we are?’
‘How would I? You’re the one who was leading the way!’
‘So now we’re both lost? Ahh… you’re a terrible guide.’
‘Except, you didn’t let me guide.’
‘What should we do now?’
‘I’m gonna ask an adult for help.’
‘What? Don’t do that! What if he takes you someplace shady and kidnapped you?’
‘I’d still be better than hanging around you.’
‘No! don’t be stupid. We need to figure this out on our own. Hmm… let’s see, first, we need to figure out where we are in the resort.’
Who is this moron? That’s like the first question she asked herself, a few seconds ago. Did she really have to think to get that conclusion? And besides, it’s obvious where we are! What we don’t know is where this place is in the resort.
‘We’re in the pool area! Can’t you see all that water over there?’
‘Oh yeah, you’re right. Wow, this is a really big pool!’
How much of an airhead is this girl?
‘Anyway, I’ll go ask someone for help.’
‘Why? Now that we know where we are, can’t we go to the back of the hotel ourselves?’
‘Just knowing we’re in the pool area doesn’t tell us where we are in the whole resort!’
‘Hmm… it does. Haven’t you read the broacher? The pool is located in the northern part of the resort, so we just need to head towards the west.’
‘Ahh… is that so? Ok fine.’
‘Yep! Let’s go!’
I slipped on the floor and was about to fall in the water, but she caught my hand. From that angle, the only thing in my field of vision was her. In front of me were those two blu… wait… what is this? It feels like… it feels like this has happened to me before. It’s weird. Do I know this girl?
‘Careful now! We wouldn’t want you getting wet.’
‘Ah… it’s your fault for running like that.’
‘What’s this can’t accept me running away from you? Scared of finding your way alone?’
‘What? No way!’
‘Then let’s get going!’
‘Hey, let go of my hand! Oh god, not again!’
We’re standing at yet another place that wasn’t our destination. Again, she dragged me the whole way, running like crazy.
‘This isn’t the back of the hotel. Where did we end up this time?’
‘We’re in the Plaza!’
‘Oh, so we’re in the southern part of the resort, so now we just need to head towards the west!’
‘Now hold on a second… Hey! Wait!’
And we’re at another place we didn’t want to go to.
‘This isn’t the right place either! Where are we now?’
‘Will you listen to me for a second?’
‘Oh, I see, it says ballroom over there, so we’re in front of the ballroom, which means, we’re in the southwest corner! We’re almost there, let’s keep going!’
And we’re now at the restaurant. Yet again nowhere close to where we had headed. In fact, we’re in the exact opposite direction.
‘The restaurant, huh? That means we’re in the east. So, we just need to head toward the west.’
‘Hey! Will you listen to me for a second?’
‘What? We’re almost there! Why are you wasting time on idle chit-chat?’
‘We’re not close, we’re right back where we started!’
‘What are you talking about? We started at the lobby.’
‘Yeah! From that lobby over there, which is like twenty meters to your right!’
I said while pointing my figure toward the lobby.
‘Oh my God, you’re right! We’re right back where we started. How did this happen?’
‘It’s quite simple actually, you keep saying we need to head toward the west.’
‘Do you even know, to which direction west is?’
‘Of course, I know! I’m not an idiot!’
‘Do you now?’
‘Yeah, I do! For example, the pool was located to the north, right? So, if we’re standing next to the pool, facing the water, then west will be to our right.’
‘Yeah, but the pool has four sides, did you take into account on which side you’re standing while making your judgment?’
‘Ah… I think… I understand now. My bad! Tee-hee.'
What an idiot. I guess I’m an even bigger idiot for staying with her this whole time.
‘Anyway, I know the way from here to the backside. Let’s go.’
‘Hold on a minute! All this running has made me hungry.’
You’re not the only one. I haven’t run this much since I came to Tokyo, so I’m starving myself.
‘You wanna eat?’
‘Well, we are at a restaurant, and I have a VIP pass!’
That’s a thing? I didn’t know. Well, I myself have an invite for the conference, which covers all the charges of the resort. Wait, could she be talking about one too? She did say she’s been here for six days.
She showed me her VIP pass.
Yep, it’s the same thing. So, she came here as a companion for the conference too. As far as I’ve seen, I think she is the only other person of my age who came here for the conference. But who did she come here, with?
Before I could read the name, she put the invite away and headed towards an empty table, again while pulling my arm.
Since we were both starving, we took full advantage of our so-called VIP pass. We ate till we were full, and while doing so tried many different dishes. It was mostly her though, she kept ordering different stuff for both of us herself. I had no choice but to go along with her since it’s my policy to never waste food. She particularly ordered lots of different cakes and pastries for herself. I guess she’s a sweet tooth.
After we were done eating, and relaxing for a bit we headed toward our main objective. And after another walk for about five minutes, we made it there.
It was already evening and the sun was about to set. We started this journey around 3 P.M. in the afternoon, but thanks to her detours, it took us this long to get here. We spend almost 2 hours walking. But finally, we made it here.
‘Ok, we’re here. You can find your way to your room from here, right?’
‘Oh, Yes I can. Thanks for your help.’
‘So… you’re not going to your room?’
‘Not right away, this is the best time to be here.’
‘Why is that?’
‘Look! You’ll see for yourself.’
Huh? What does she mean? What’s special about this time? It’s still the same lake. Still the same scenery. So, what makes this the best time?
‘I don’t’ see anything special.’
‘Look there! It’s shining like gold, amidst red water surrounded by mountains, isn’t it miraculous?’
What? I’ve definitely heard this before! I’ve had this conversation before!
‘What’s miraculous about it? It’s just normal.’
‘These ordinary things, mountains and water, and sunlight. When put together, it gives birth to such a divine sight. Just glancing at it calms your soul.’
‘Calms my soul, huh?’
‘If you feel empty, depressed, or stressed, you shouldn’t stay cooped up in your room, you should come out and see the world. The vast skies, the endless oceans, dense forests, and giant lakes, there’s so much to see, the world’s so big if you look, there has to be a solution to your problems, you just have to look hard enough. If you just try to see, there are so many wonders in this world that no one could be empty. No one could be alone.’
‘You sure sound like someone with a lot of wisdom, for the idiot you actually are!’
‘Hey! Who are you calling an idiot?’
‘But I can understand why you would suggest seeing the world. For your sense of direction, you might’ve seen a lot of it already, whenever you got lost.’
‘Hey! I don’t get lost that often. I suggest what I suggest because that’s how every solution is found in this world.’
‘Then what about the scientists looking for the answers to the world’s toughest questions from inside a room?’
‘You think they don’t explore the world? You can’t be any more wrong. They explore far more than we can even imagine, from a quirk in the sub-atomic space to a massive black hole in the cosmos. They explore our world more than anyone else. Maybe in their imagination, but they still seek for answers out there.’
I’ve got nothing against that, she is absolutely right.
‘But not all answers can be found in the imagination. For most of the problems life throws at you, you have to step outside. Because some problems can only be solved by practical experience’
Wow, is she the same girl from before? Talk about a total of one-eighty. It’s like I’m talking to a totally different person.
‘So… you spent most of your time here, for this divine sight of yours?’
‘You can say that. I’d say this is the most beautiful spot I’ve found since I came here. So, in the evening I almost always come here.’
‘Don’t you get bored looking at the same sight?’
‘You can’t get bored of it so easily. Do one thing, come sit here.’
Following what she said, I sat down on the bench right next to her. As soon as I sat down, she woke up and walked in front of me.
‘Now right to take it in, all the beauty in one go.’
She said pointing her hand towards the lake.
As I looked at the lake again, this time her words from before echoed in my head. It felt like a completely different experience this time, divine just as she said. Her description was like the scene itself put into words. It couldn’t be defined any other way. It was perfect.
‘Can you see? How brightly it shines!’
I can see, I can see now. The shine, even more than the golden water, I could see a shine in her eyes. From my point of view, I could see, a sight that could be called divine, and right in the middle of it was she, shining like a goddess, and her eyes shining like gemstones. It was truly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I wonder how beautiful the world must appear from her eyes?
‘You’re here for the conference, right?’
‘Well, my dad is, I’m just accompanying him.’
‘So is my dad. So, hmm… We’re both here for three more days, right?’
‘So… ah… what I’m saying is… hmm… would you… will you show me… those other places you’ve found too? Like maybe tomorrow?’
Oh crap, how did I say that? It’s so embarrassing. We don’t even know each other, why would she agree to it, actually why would she even consider it?
‘Yeah, I mean I had a lot of fun today, so why not?’
She had fun? But we just ran around the whole place. But then again, I asked her to do the same thing myself. Did I have fun, too? It’s weird, I don’t know the answer… I guess I’ll just have to look for it. And the only way to find an answer is to explore. Then I’ll explore her world and find the answer.
‘Great, then how about we meet here again tomorrow at the same time?’
‘Just make sure you don’t get lost.’
‘Oh, shut up!’
After that, we went back to our rooms.
Back in my room, it was different. I felt different than usual. Today, I was excited, I enjoyed this trip for once. Unlike the past six days, today I had a story to tell, today I learned something new, today I saw something beautiful.
That divine sight, of the crimson water of a lake shining like gold from like the light of the setting sun, and in the middle of it all, a girl with sparkling eyes, like the goddess of a divine land. That sight was the only thing on my mind. Enchanted by its beauty, for the first time in my life, I wished to paint something. I wanted to engrave its beauty onto paper.
Although I had drawn pencil sketches, I had never painted anything before. I spent hours trying to perfect it. I began working on it pretty much as soon as I returned to my room and kept working until 10 P.M. So, I spent about four hours on it. And the result was pretty decent. Most people could tell that it was the work of an amateur, but I was still pretty satisfied with it, considering it was my first painting.
Right around when I was done, my father returned to the room as well. He was pretty surprised to see me so invested in something.
‘I didn’t know you liked to paint, Akio?’
‘This is actually the first time I’ve painted anything.’
‘What for real? This is incredible!’
Well, I did say most people will. I think to a science person like him, any piece of art would appear like a masterpiece.
‘By the way, who is that girl in your painting?’
‘Oh, she’s a new friend I made today. I saw this scenery from the back of the hotel while I was with her.’
‘Oh, good for you. I’m glad you’re enjoying this trip. So, what’s the name of this new friend of yours?’
‘I’m asking what’s her name?’
‘Ah… I… don’t know.’
‘I hmm… I forgot to ask her name.’
‘What? You made friends with her, and you don’t even know her name?’
I guess I can’t call her an idiot anymore. I feel pretty stupid myself right now.
‘I’ll… I’ll ask her tomorrow.’
‘Do you know if she’ll be staying here tomorrow?’
‘Yes! She’s here with her father who’s here for the conference too! I saw her invite, she’ll be staying here just as long as we will.’
‘Didn’t you read her name in the invite?’
‘No, I didn’t get enough time to read it.’
‘What color was the cover of the invite.’
‘Blue. The same as ours.’
‘Oh, I think I know who your friend is.’
‘If she had a blue invite, that means her father is from my research group. And the only person in my group who brought their kid with them other than me is my assistant.’
‘You mean… You mean she is the daughter of Mr…’
My eyes open. An unfamiliar ceiling. I’m not at my home. Where am I? What happened? I was dreaming? No, it was all real. All of that really happened. How could I forget?
I look around, I’m lying on a bed. I seem to be getting IV therapy. Am I in a hospital? To my right, I see a window. It’s bright, it seems it's morning already. To my left I… I see her… there, sitting on a chair was her. It was Yukawa.
‘It was you, wasn’t it?’
The words left my mouth as soon as I saw her.
‘I’ve met you before, right? Before St. Stephen’s. Why didn’t it ever occur to me before? Your name always sounded familiar, and you were acquaintances with my sister.’
‘You’re the daughter of Mr. Asahi Yukawa, my father’s assistant.’