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Mar 09, 2020

Fantasy Romance

 We met in Tokyo under the city lights. Everything about you intrigued me; even your silhouette was beautiful. You taught me the art of falling in love. Eventually you taught me the art of letting go. I still dream about you sometimes. 


***

The cherry blossoms bloomed again this spring. Some days I go and sit beneath their branches, listening to them whisper in their native language about the past. They asked me about you. Remember those days when we were just children? How we used to chase the falling petals as they descended to their resting place in the fresh green grass; how you used to fall asleep under them in the light of the midday April sun? I used to watch you, lying there with petals stuck to your dark mess of hair, and dream about a world where you and I could go and live under the cherry blossoms forever. To be completely honest, I still dream about that world sometimes. Maybe someday you’ll come back to me and we can live in that world of eternal springs together. Until then, I will use my power to relive our fondest memories together and wonder what our lives could have been like if only you had decided to stay. I closed my eyes and willed myself to return to the day you and I first met. 

It’s April 14th, 2014, at 5:58pm. I have a 6:00pm train to catch. I’m running across Tokyo Station carrying a map in one hand and lugging a rolling backpack in the other as it trails behind me in a purple flurry; pausing every few seconds to apologize to the people glaring at me with brand new scuffs across the toes of their work shoes. Everything is whirling past me so quickly that I almost miss it, but just as a train zooms past I see something that makes everything in my frenzied world come to a sudden halt. There you are, young and beautiful like I always remembered you. You’re standing on the other side of the tracks with a book in one hand and the other shoved into the front pocket of your jeans. I can’t help but stare in awe at the way you always make everything around you appear to move in slow motion, almost as if the entire world is taking its time absorbing the mere beauty of your existence. Your eyes meet mine, and I get the feeling that time and space have conspired together for some cosmic reason to bring you and I before each other once again. Suddenly my train rolls to a slow and steady stop on the tracks between us, blocking you from my view. As I board the train and frantically look out the window in an attempt to find you again, I hear someone sitting down next to me. I smile solemnly as I observe the way you shuffle your Nike tennis shoes on the floor, making me remember how shy you used to be. For a moment I close my eyes and thank God for allowing me to live this moment again. To merely exist near you even once for so many years was something I know I never deserved. You glance over at me, and for the first time it occurs to me just how young we were when we fell in love. I see that your cheeks are still rounded like that of a child, pieces of your hair stick straight up in certain places, and your eyes still have that unscathed, innocent and magical glow resting inside them; the eyes of someone who does not yet understand what cruel elements this world is made from. Tears begin welling up in my eyes from the intensity of the moment, and I look straight ahead, trying to find something to distract my mind. I notice there’s a newspaper tucked away into the back pocket of the seat in front of me. I glance at it to see a headline about the ongoing war in China that has everyone glued to their televisions and walking around whispering in hushed tones about how this might affect our country. The sound of your voice brings me back, and I notice that your voice never changed; the way you said “hello” on the train and the way you said “goodbye” while I ran out into the rain in the middle of night and begged you to come back to me both had that same husky tone to it. You ask me my name, and after a few minutes of awkward silence, you and I hit it off the way I already knew we would. I listen to you tell me stories that I already have memorized word-for-word, and I tell you that I’m new to the area, and my father got a job offer in the city about a month ago. I tell you I miss my hometown of Nikko and am homesick to the point where I have dreams every night about moving back. By the time my stop comes, you and I are already planning the next time we’ll meet. You ask me to meet you at Shinjuku Gyoen tomorrow at 12:00pm so you can show me some of your favorite spots. I agree, and before I have time to reflect on what’s happening, it’s already the next day. I look around and find myself standing in the middle of the Shinjuku gardens, watching the mid-afternoon sun cast a glow on your sleeping figure. I take a deep breath and try my best to savor this moment. There are wars being waged in foreign countries not too far from where I’m standing; people are dying by the second and countless others are being left behind to deal with the damage. So many terrible, awful things are happening right now in this world, but here I am, standing in the most beautiful place on Earth. I walk closer to you, moving at a slow, steady pace to ensure I don’t disturb the quiet stillness of time. One wrong move and this moment could disappear into the mild spring wind, leaving behind not a single trace for me to hold on to. Everything seems too beautiful to be real...yet here you are, just a few feet from where I’m standing, fast asleep beneath the falling petals of the cherry blossoms in the glow of the April sun. Here you are, the calm in the midst of the storm, the peace in the midst of the chaos. I hold my breath, so afraid that if I breathe you’ll vanish before my eyes and I’ll never be able to remember the way the petals stick to your hair. I am so afraid that the universe will take this memory away from me because it has decided that it has fallen in love with you, too. I stare in awe at the peaceful sight I’m fortunate enough to behold a second time. It feels like a fantasy, like a dream that I never want to wake up from. How I wish everyone in the world could share this moment with me; how everyone would immediately lay down their weapons and their harsh words just to bask in your beauty forever. 

Did you know you could stop wars? I bet no one ever told you. 

Did you know that I loved you? Of course not. I know I never told you. 

      ***


It’s been years since I’ve seen you. Tokyo looks different without you. These city lights don't shine quite as bright without you standing there beneath their glow, illuminating the way I once loved you. Midnight doesn't have the same sleepy excitement that it used to, back when you and I would stay awake all night, discussing dreams that only crazy people would dare to imagine. I know we ended on bad terms, but your empty coffee cup is sitting untouched on the counter, and though I don't drink coffee I still brew some fresh every morning, just in case you ever decide to stop by. It's okay if you don't, but I wish that you would. 

I miss you. 


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