Chapter 10:

What Makes Me Close to You

The Sound of Love

On that gray afternoon, through the window, you could see the almost bare trees swaying gently in the wind. We were in our room, and my father was teaching me a new chord progression for a melody he had created.

I tried to reproduce the same sound he had shown me, but no matter how hard I tried, the sound I produced couldn't compare to his. Every note seemed to slip through my fingers.

"I can't do this," I said, disheartened, setting the guitar aside.

"Look, let me show you again," my father said, gently picking up the guitar and resting it on his thigh.

His fingers danced across the strings, and each chord was played flawlessly. I watched him closely, absorbing every movement, every expression on his face, hoping to uncover the secret behind that mesmerizing melody.

It was as if each chord told a story, and revealed a profound secret, and I ardently wished to be able to reproduce the same thing.

"Playing music is about showing what you feel. It's about sharing the things that bring you the most joy. Think about the notes and what they mean, the message you want to convey to people."

He played with such emotion that it was as if each note carried part of his happiness.

"Try again," my father said, smiling, looking into my eyes, and extending the guitar.

With determination, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, seeking to find the emotional connection my father conveyed through his music.

As I mentally prepared myself to try again, I heard the door burst open. It was my younger brother, Keiji, who had arrived running with something in his hand.

"Daddy, Daddy, I finished my drawing, look," he said breathlessly, shaking a paper in front of him like a treasure waiting to be revealed.

My father smiled, embracing my younger brother's enthusiasm. "Wow, Keiji. This is a work of art. What did you draw?"

"I drew everyone. There's me, Daddy, Mommy, and Yuyi."

Keiji, at that time, still had difficulties pronouncing my name correctly.

"This deserves to be displayed in a frame, Keiji!"

Despite being just a child's drawing, with stick figures that bore no resemblance to us, my father was incredibly enthusiastic.

Then, his phone rang, interrupting the moment. He answered without much ceremony, but something in his expression changed as he listened to the voice on the other end of the line.

"Hello, boss... yes... yes... now?... argh, alright... okay... I'll be there soon..."

Putting the phone back in his pocket, he got up from the floor, dusting off his clothes.

"Daddy needs to take care of some things at the office, but I'll be back soon, okay?"

We all went downstairs together, and in the living room was my mother, sitting on the couch, watching a cooking show.

"Satomi, my boss just called, and I need to go to the office to sort out a mess caused by an intern."

"But now? It's getting late already."

"There's no choice, it's the weekend tomorrow, and they need me."

"Try not to come back too late, I'll make karē tonight."

"I'll be back quickly; I wouldn't miss your karē for anything."

He headed for the door, put on his shoes, and looked at me and Keiji, noticing our disappointed looks.

"Daddy will be right back, okay? Who knows, maybe on the way back, I'll bring some delicious cookies for you guys, huh?"

"Yay!" Keiji jumped with joy.

He waved goodbye and gave us one last affectionate look before leaving through the door.

The three of us watched him walk away, and at that moment, we had no idea those would be his last words. If I had known, I would have said something, instead of just staying silent. I would have told him I loved him once more, that I would make an effort to learn his melody, and that I wouldn't get annoyed anymore when Keiji called me Yuyi.

But the truth is, we never know when will be the last moment, and that day I just sat beside my mother and Keiji, anxiously waiting for his return, not knowing he would never come back.

As we ate karē, the phone rang, and my mother answered nonchalantly. At first, her words were of surprise and disbelief, as if she couldn't believe what she was hearing.

But gradually, her words became weaker and interrupted, until she fell to the floor, her eyes overflowing with tears and anguished sobs.

I don't remember much of what happened next, just flashes of pain and despair.

I remember being at his funeral, surrounded by relatives and friends. And afterward, when we were back home again, silence filled the living room. No sound of the TV, no sound of cheerful conversations. Just the sound of our own thoughts echoing in the once joy-filled space.

Our life changed rapidly. Playing with my father, his music, and his wise words were now just memories mixed with tears and longing. All that was left were his notes, his melodies, and the moments we had shared together.

♪ ♫ ♪

Kurokawa sat in front of me as I told her this story. She remained silent, her eyes filled with tears, just like mine. My hands trembled, but gradually, I felt a slight relief after opening up to her.

I waited for a response, but she seemed lost in her thoughts as well.

I looked down, observing my fingers. Then, I felt a comforting warmth as Kurokawa's arms wrapped around me in a tight, emotional hug.

"I'm sorry, Tanaka," she said gently.

She pulled away and looked at me deeply, conveying all her understanding and empathy for what I was feeling. Her words flowed with tenderness, trying to encourage me and help me see things differently.

"I started playing because I felt inspired watching you play. That day at the store, I almost left while thinking about telling you something, but imagining that I could miss an opportunity and regret it later made me come back and ask you to teach me to play the guitar."

Her hands trembled. I listened attentively, realizing how much she believed in the power of these compositions and the importance of sharing them.

"I don't want you to regret one day for being afraid to do something. These compositions are wonderful, and it would be even more wonderful if you shared the happiness described in them."

Her words echoed in my mind, challenging my own beliefs and insecurities. Somehow, she made me see beyond my emotional barriers.

"Maybe you're right, Kurokawa, but I still need to think about it carefully. This is what connects me to my father."

"You're wrong, Tanaka," she interrupted. "You think that by keeping it to yourself, you get closer to him, but in reality, you drift away."

Kurokawa's expression changed; her eyes exuded confidence and determination.

"What keeps your father's memories alive is not hiding them but sharing them. Just like he said, playing music is about sharing the things that bring you the most joy. That's how you'll keep him closer, by doing what he always wanted to do, which was to share his happiness with others."

A genuine smile appeared on my lips.

Kurokawa had become a great friend and a source of inspiration for me. Before, I kept bottling up what troubled me, doing the same things, and having the same routine, but since I met her, I found a light that gives me a reason to move forward.

Somehow, it felt like our encounter had been destined, as if we were meant to be together, there, at that exact moment. And as time passed, it became harder to imagine a world where I stayed away from her.

Although we had our music lesson as planned that day, the atmosphere was charged with emotion, and we couldn't enjoy it as usual. My mind was preoccupied with what I should do from there, whether I should show everyone the songs and memories my father had left behind.

As I said goodbye to Kurokawa, her words continued to echo in my mind.

The silent scenery and dark sky reminded me of that fateful day when I received the news about my father. As I walked through the room, my eyes turned to the photos on the shelf, representing the happy moments we had shared together.

I also looked at a frame on the wall, a child's drawing, with stick figures that bore no resemblance to people.

Maybe Kurokawa was right. Instead of holding onto what I thought was right, I should remember the happy moments we had together and share the happiness I had once felt. Because, in the end, that was what truly mattered.

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