Cherry Blossom On A Hill of Restless Hearts

Submitted into Contest #191 in response to: Make Japan (or Japanese culture) an element of your story.... view prompt

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Asian American Romance Coming of Age

It was like I was trapped in a moment. Though she was warm against me, I felt like I was frozen in carbonite. Putting two things next two each other often highlights each others' personality traits, which explained why the beauty of Mount Pleasant High bloomed so brilliantly next to the Aaron Christopher, the reserved wallflower (aka me). She felt like a marshmallow with flesh, but somehow also felt like an anchor on my arm. It was like not wanting to move because a dog was sitting on my lap and I didn’t want to disturb the moment at perfect rest. 

I can’t think of a sweeter treasure than the ones we find by accident, the ones we know deep down are too good for us. The ones we stumble into by sheer accident, but once we know it exists, we can’t imagine living without it. How crazy is it to think that the person I couldn’t live without was the one that almost slipped through my fingers forever. The days we had left in high school were running short, and I had liked Sakura for four years to that point, so my mindset was, ‘Screw it, I’m never gonna see her again anyways. I might as well take a chance.’ Lo and behold, the demons I built up in my head weren’t nearly as powerful as I made them out to be.

We both shared a PE class, aka quite possibly the worst class I could ask to share with my crush. After a high-stakes game of volleyball, I flipped a coin to determine if today was the day or not. 

Heads I ask her, tails I don’t. Pulling out my phone, I flipped the coin and waited for the red thread of fate to play its part. It was like that scene in Grown Ups where they shot an arrow up in the air and luck determined if it landed in their foot or not, and after a couple of seconds of anticipation, it looked like I was David Spade. Heads. Looks l wasn’t running from fate anymore. 

With a deep sigh (ironic, I know), I jogged over to our school’s bloomed beauty and, well, the rest is history.

“H-hey.” I said with a slug in my throat.

“Hey.” she said effortlessly.

“I, um, I just wanted to know if you had any plans this weekend.”

“Well, I was going to go to the culture festival with my parents.”

“There’s a Japanese culture festival in Delaware?”

“Mmhm. There’s gonna be food and games under the cherry blossoms. And at the end of it all, there’s gonna be a big fireworks show.”

“Sounds explosive. I get if it’s a family thing, but do you maybe wanna catch a movie next weekend. Not next weekend like ‘this’ weekend, but next weekend like ‘next’ next weekend?”

“Hmm… I’ll give it some thought.”

I knew I was in once I saw her press her finger against the side of her cheek and swivel her head side to side. Believing it, however, was a different battle. I’m still half-convinced that I stumbled into something unsustainable and that one day I’m gonna trip, hit my head, and wake up from my daydream. It didn’t even matter to me that this was two years ago, that we were grown legal adults at this point, I still couldn’t believe that we were where we were. It didn’t matter that I had spent an entire day eating takoyaki and yakisoba, listening to traditional music, and resting my head against the shoulder of the woman that I loved. If she ever needed me to, I'd become her legs.

As we snuggled up together, we watched the sun turn from a piercing azure to a sherbert orange. She had her favorite spot that she would go to whenever she wasn’t with her parents. It was a nice nook against a tree with a big rock peaking over the edge. It was a built-in sort of anti-pervert defense mechanism, but she didn’t even need that anymore. That was what I was there for. As long as I was hers and she was mine. Heck, even if we broke up (perish the thought), I’d still defend her out of instinct, because I hate seeing the people/things I love in pain. I guess that explained why I kept making sure she was okay every couple minutes.

“Comfortable?” I asked delicately.

“Mostly.”

“Mostly?”

“Yeah, it’s a little hard against this tree.”

“Oh, sorry. Do you need me to move.”

“No. You’re perfect where you are.”

Her cheeks were plum red, and not just because of her makeup. With the way she was acting, I’d never think she was the one out of my league, that I’d been afraid to approach her for four years, that I was the one trying to impress her. 

I could tell she was uncomfortable, and it was making me uncomfortable, because I felt like I had to figure out the next step so she didn’t have to, so I went with an ol’ reliable: compliment the parts of her that were clearly meant to make me happy. 

“You look beautiful in that kimono. It’s very radiant.”

“Really? I’m glad you like it. I was afraid it was too showoffy, but if it makes you happy, then it was all worth it.”

“Gosh, you’re almost making me feel guilty.”

“Guilty for what?

“For being this happy. For making you go out of your way to look good for me. For having something that others would kill for. Me and you being in each other’s arms… It doesn’t feel real. I haven’t stopped thinking about you since you said ‘yes.’” I said as I rested my head on her bare shoulder. I didn’t wanna do anything pervy, so I just closed my eyes and felt her smooth skin against my chin, the silky linen tickling the side of my cheek. Suddenly, I felt a hand on the back of my neck. My nose was pressing against something soft and squishy, but my forehead felt a bumping noise. Bum bum, bum bum, bum bum.

Wait… that’s one more bum than normal!

“Honestly, I’d been waiting for you to man up and pop the question for a while. I was beginning to worry you didn’t actually like me. 

“Haha! I guess I did avoid eye contact with you in PE. That, and I didn’t wanna look like a creep.”

“Well, nothing wrong with looking now, is there?” 

Sakura’s kimono spilled over my sides, as if to hide what happens next from the eyes of mortals, gods, and ancestors alike. A union of flesh that was our secret to keep alone. Normally, I had a pretty loose pair of lips unless what was being concealed was worthwhile. Well, I guess my lips were still loose (just for more fun reasons).

The fireworks were technically the main reason that we came here, but we found a better way to pass the time. Our Purgatory turned into Paradise with the interlocking of fingers. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded if that fated hour never came, if some delay kept us saddled side by side as we sank into each other.

The culture festival was still going strong, but her voice was all that I could hear. Her breath, the parts of her that she gave me the right to think about. And just as she leant in, I remembered what she said earlier: be a man. With an upward thrust, I leaned in so that I could pretend I was the one who initiated the kiss. As our lips touched, fireworks combusted in the background, soundtracking the best moment of my life to that point, and as if waiting for our lips to touch, the pyrotechnics combust in the background.

If one thing tonight has taught me, it’s that God is a real bro.



March 31, 2023 22:13

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4 comments

V. S. Rose
00:32 May 11, 2023

I really liked your descriptions in this story Dylan. I thought you captured the feelings of a high school crush quite well. There was also some strong emotions in here that came out with your main character's inner monologue and also in his interactions with Sakura. One thing that I think might strengthen the story in this piece is maybe adding more conflict. We go from the inciting incident (the MC flips a coin and talks to his crush) to the climax (their kiss at the culture festival) in smooth arc of rising romance. It might have been mo...

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Dylan Patrick
17:44 May 12, 2023

Thank you for reading! I mostly glossed over the conflict because I wanted to show the demons we build up in our heads aren't nearly as strong as we make them out to be, and the worst part is breaking the initial barrier. I do agree, however, that it likely would have benefitted more from showing the protagonist working up the courage to talk to Sakura, as well as the thoughts that went through his head as he waited for her to respond. I appreciate the feedback!

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MJ Simons
20:16 Apr 12, 2023

Lovely and romantic story. My favorite line was, "The ones we stumble into by sheer accident, but once we know it exists, we can’t imagine living without it." It's such a good line and so true. Good use of description and imagery in the story. Nicely done!

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Dylan Patrick
20:40 Apr 12, 2023

Thank you for your comment! My biggest self-criticism was that I felt my past few stories were just me scene-hopping, so I wanted to make something fully married to one moment. It's good to hear I succeeded.

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