Can You See Them?
It’s been a long time since I last heard her voice- “Hey, wait for me!” she would say. She smiled at me as she always would have done every morning, exactly 6:30 AM whenever I stood by the intersection to cross. I turned around, awkwardly give her a smile back, which was an expression that turned rather warm and soft as the clouds were expressed to be, floating up there in the smudged sunset red colored morning sky.
I didn’t know her that well. I guess that can go the same for her too. We barely met and our friendship started out with a question.
“Do you like fireworks?”
She asked me out of nowhere one day. It was during the week before the Sakura Festival, as she and I made our way home from school. We usually walked across a bridge that overlooked the metro train clacking its way on the rails whenever it was 4PM.
“They’re alright. I’m not that much into going out and stuff.”
“Eh? Why? They’re amazing and beautiful! I hear they’re going to make sakura shaped fireworks next week during the festival!”
“Oh you’re going?”
She nodded so eagerly I thought she was going to snap her neck off. Adjusting her glasses back to her nose bridge and fixed the book she always carried with her back and forth, she managed to take out a piece of paper from her binder and handed it to me.
“Here. Some more information about the theme, the times, and date! You must come okay? I have something to tell you on that day!” She grinned goofily, which always made me smile back at her. She’s so upbeat, humorful, very curious about everything around her, and that was something it kept me wonder more about her personality.
“Okay okay. I’ll try to come. If it’s on a Saturday, why not?”
She beamed brightly. I laughed.
The week went by as usual. School, homework, tests, quizzes, tennis, more homework at home, and then her. She was the only one who made my day outside of school, with the exception of a few of my other friends. She sent me encouraging text messages and always checking up on how I was doing on things.
I felt bad sometimes because usually I don’t know what to reply back so I just read it. Nonetheless, she was there. And like a book, she slowly opened her story more, letting me find out who she truly is.
Then the Saturday came. The day when I was suppose to go to the Sakura Festival to meet with her. But practice was holding me at the time and the coach wouldn’t release us till eight in the evening. I pushed on and on and on with my formation, my serves, my power, everything just so I can have his permission to leave and go to the Festival.
I finally finished with a smashing finale of the ball across the court, ran to the locker room to get changed and out of the school gates to make it on time to meet her; to see her before the day ended. It wasn’t until fifteen minutes after 8:45 when the fireworks were released to the sky. I didn’t mind the noises at first. Until my eyes finally turned their full attention towards the sky and there spelled my name. Next to them were the words:
It’s been a long time since I saw her. The girl who would greet me good morning at exactly 6:30 in the morning, who would send me messages to hang in there and care about my own being. Twenty years has passed from thereon and her presence was no longer felt by my side. It felt normal still because she remained within my memories forever.
“It’s been a long time since I saw you.” The fireworks in the background on the same date as the Sakura Festival exploded in rays of colors, shaped like the actual flowers up the tree. She was right. They were amazingly beautiful.
I clutched tightly on the flowers and gave her my warmest smile.
“I wish we could go back to that time, you know. When we were walking across that bridge,” she recalled with a distant voice.
Inhaling the air sharply at the pain of the memory when I failed to meet her on that festival day, I opened my mouth to apologize once more. But she seemed to already know what I was going to say and chuckled softly.
“You still saying sorry about that time?” I nodded defeatedly. The girl shrugged casually and folded her hands together.
“It’s alright. I don’t have that much time left anyways.” I looked at her with opened eyes to say that it wasn’t true. But the state that she’s in wasn’t how she was twenty years ago. Her now has put her whole body at a rest on a hospital bed with beep machines next to her and a needle inserted within her arm.
I made my way beside her and carefully placed the bouquet on top of a small bedside table. She looked at me and closed her eyes.
“I see that you’ve become a successful and happy guy.” I scoffed and waved my hand. The girl unfolded her hands and touched one of my cheeks, which gave me the warmest feeling of a nostalgia. I held her hand there and wouldn’t let go. I could feel her shake immensely and looked to see her tears overflow.
“I-I don’t w-want to g-go.” My heart felt heavy at her choked voice. I don’t want her to go either. I don’t want her to leave. She’s the only one I’ve got and it’s too soon. I let go of her hand and squeezed her whole body against me, forgetting everything else around the world.
“I-I want t-to stay. I-I don’t want t-to d-”
“NO YOU WON’T.” I forced the words to come out. “You won’t! You will be here by my side like always. You won’t go anywhere else!” The girl worriedly looked at her lifeline on the beeping machine. It began to count down.
She clutched onto my back and I remained my eyes wide open, never wanting to let go. Then, she went beside my ear and whispered:
A short story by Hannah.