Along The Way (途中で)
Another day of classes had come to its conclusion, though neither joy nor pity worked in me, as I had other business waiting for me beyond the school gates.
My body sailed through long corridors, passing the other students in hurry exiting the school building. As soon as the glass doors made way for me beyond the plastered walls, my eyes spot the sight of Akihiko-kun standing by the school gates.
I approached him quickly, noticing clear sign of patience enveloped all over his face. The noise, chattering engulfing the surrounding air, didn’t seem to bother him a bit.
Suddenly his gaze fell on me, then he took his eyes off of me and looked at the sky, “The weather today is quite fine, isn’t it?”
I brought my eyes along the same direction of his. “It seems to be…”
He brought his eyes back to me, while I brought mine too. “If that’s so, then shall we start walking?” Just as he said that, his legs took pace without waiting for me, giving me the sign that he wants me to catch up to him.
I quickly started following him, keeping a little distance between us while also trying to match with his pace.
He placed his hands inside his pocket, as he seemed comfortable to wear his real emotions, everything from laundry day jeans to the plain shirt I was wearing played upon his eyes and lips.“So what is it that you want to talk about?”
His tone didn’t have any heat to it, as if his heart beat so steadily. It felt like this conversation would go from nowhere to turning into a tornado.
Though feeling that sensation, of the non-acceptance or prejudice, of the conversation becoming shallow and awkward, I continued.
“If I am not wrong, you know everything that I will ask. Am I right?”
“Sort of…” Even though he said that, he appeared more like a ball bouncing to me, free to the casual glances yet restrained by a pretty rope.
“By the way, do you know just how easy it is to read you.”
I quickly turned away from him, though instead of bickering with him like I am accustomed to, I tried to not act different, absorbing all of it without reacting.
"Just tell me, why didn’t you come that day. While I was waiting for you at the rooftop, I saw you leaving the campus as if you didn’t even remember anything.” I asked a bit forcefully, giving him no scope of changing the topic.
“Don’t know, I guess I just forgot about it. The weather didn’t look so good that day, so I only thought of going home as soon as I could.” He answered flimsily.
In my rage, I became blind to him, and to the delicate petals of my heart and soul. I assumed I was right when I had no real reason to. The words he spoke in such well-intentioned purity triggered something in me that came from fear.
“While I was waiting for you at the rooftop.” I further added.
He laughed a little as he said that, though we are people of different emotions. Of cold hearts, they don’t feel that awkward as his words made me feel.
I took a deep breath as I cooled my mind. After that, I increased my pace, catching up to him.
“Just to ask, but are you new in Tokyo, or have you lived here before?”
“I won’t say I’ve never been here before. I’ve been here a few times, but even now this place always seems new to me.” He answered as we kept on walking.
“You mean You’ve only visited here before, but never lived here.”
Suddenly, he abruptly paused to close his eyes and take a deep breath, “May I ask you something Yuki.”
“Yes, you can. Ask anything if you want.”
“Why are you asking me all these? Is it just your curiosity, or is something else the matter.” He looked rather bold as he said that, with a deeper tone than before.
It was like he was talking even with his eyes, his rate of breathing, and his subtle motions and body language.
“Actually, I am curious about you from the day you joined our class.” I didn’t think twice while I started spilling out everything that was in my mind.
“And why would that be?” A clear shock was registered on his face, noticed before he could hide it.
“It’s just that you seemed so familiar to me, like I remember you from somewhere, or that we had met before.”
“Is that just your gut feeling or something else?” He further inquired.
“I don’t know. Maybe because you remind of someone, an old friend from long ago. Though that may be the reason, it doesn’t feel like the case this time.”
As I said that, Akihiko-kun suddenly stopped walking, and so did I. I looked at his face, which was missing of the smile he had even a while ago. His face was very clear to me, that unlike earlier, this time he didn’t knew what I was saying, to be more precise he didn’t see that coming.
“A friend, you say, whom I remind you of. I would like to
know about that friend, if it’s not a problem.” He asks me, but
this time the mood was different, though I couldn’t read what
was going on in his mind.
“Sorry, but I can’t share it with you. To be frank, I wouldn’t even mention him to anyone, but you were a special case.”
For perhaps a split second his shock was suspended, his cool demeanour protecting him until it shattered like glass. I guess you could call it shock, but to me, they're they're the same thing for the first fraction of a second -an inability to comprehend.
“But why is it that you won’t talk about him to anyone else?”
“It’s just that the memories with him aren’t something I find pleasure in. I just want to forget everything about him, or I feel like they might just drag me down in my path.” I clenched my fist as I sucked the air around me as I took a deep breath. “Please don’t ask anything else. I’ve said more than I had intended.”
Yeah, he knows I’m in pain. So much, so obvious. But those old scars are best left alone unless you've got the time to stick by me, to heal me after you've opened them up. I know it seems kind to ask and inquire, but in this situation it isn't. Every one of those scars is some terrible pain, that's why we do our best to accept people as they are and be compassionate.
“No problem then. Everyone has their little secrets. I won’t ask anything about that any further, don’t worry.” He looked around as he said that. “It seems that we have walked quite a way. Your home is in the other direction, right? Should I come along with you for a little path?”
“Oh, no, but thanks. I am okay on my own.” I declined his offer before he would say anything else. Actually I didn’t want to be accompanied by him for now, rather I would prefer to walk alone.
“You shouldn’t say ‘I’m okay on my own’ when there are people who are always worried about you.” Even though very faint, like as if he whispered those words only to me, they hit me like a knife, sharp and painful, while he started walking towards his home.
I kept standing there silently, watching as he mixed with the crowd in front, until I couldn’t see him any more. Now the day of all days felt to me of more calmness, now that I had mastered the art of having a clear brain, the serenity of feeling my own intelligence rather than tiring myself with unresolved thoughts, I could see far more clearly, yet rather through my senses than my eyes, a sort of thinking without words. And what came to me were new thoughts, a sort of poetry I never realized I was capable of. The avenue was breathing, living, through the trees and the people, as if they were in a strange conversation of sorts, one of the emotions. It was as if the colours and the sounds, the bustle and the quiet space, were a million weaved moments both transient and real.
With each stride, my mind became more clear, more resolute, as if the growing physical distance between us had now become an emotional chasm. As the nascent sunlight caressed her skin, promising a new dawn, a new beginning, something came to mind, which shockingly enough, I didn’t realize earlier.
“How did he know that my house was the other way?”