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I’ve never seen the ocean this way before…
It shines without a sun….
And this feeling…
As if this morning never happen….
There’re no worries…
She was wrong…
There is no pain here…
I made it home…
“Welcome home, we were waiting for you.”
*******************The Day Before*******************
“The water’s warm,” I said half-closing my eyes in pleasure.
I smiled at the pleasing shock waves traveling up my arm making me feel joy. This smile, however, is real. It’s not like all the other ones I’m forced to fake every day of my life. No, this one is of straight up human pleasure. I took in the moment and fantasized how my day would be. I would be able to smile truly all day and I would actually feel joy like I do now. Then I would have to go home afterwards and plaster a smile on my face to make others believe I am a happy child. Destiny… what kind of a name is that? It’s the kind of name only girls with bright futures receive. Me, I don’t have a bright future being the only child of a standard Japanese family, I am to do what my father loves best…music. I play the violin, almost at every minute of my life since I can remember. I’ve awed crowds, and made stone cry, but I don’t want to be a musician. I do love it, but I want to do what I want to do. But what can I do about it now? All I have to do is smile and fake happiness for my parents and life is good.
Luckily, today I know I’ll actually be happy. I’m ironically glad my parents kept me up all night arguing, if they hadn’t I wouldn’t have heard my clumsy neighbor try to come up my porch. I remember the conversation clearly since yesterday night with Norio and I.
“Meet me under the pier,” he said after catching himself from almost falling to his death.
“Be careful,” I scolded, “Do you want to die?”
“Of course not,” Norio replied with fear in his tone.
I pulled him up to my porch and he fell with a thud. Yes, he was clumsy but also very cute. His milk chocolate hair shone on the moonlight brighter than it did in the sunlight. His blue eyes and brown hair were a weird mix, but all the girls like it somehow. I remember Norio for as long as my memory has existed. We were always the best of friends, and although my father doesn’t approve of him, his father approves of me. So, I secretly meet him sometimes and vice versa. Since I can remember we were in the same classes, and now the same high school. Deep inside I’m glad we have known each other for such a long time, or else whom would I have by my side everyday?
“Did you say to meet you?” I said keeping my voice down, “It’s already shameful enough that you are climbing to a young girl’s room.”
“Well, I’m technically on your porch,” Norio said scratching his head.
“It doesn’t matter,” I replied half-laughing because his glasses were in a weird position, “you’re going to get caught one of these days.”
“Whatever, it’s worth it,” he replied sincerely.
I adjusted his glasses for him and he blushed. I giggled as I went on my knees to speak to him.
“Why do you wear glasses if you don’t even need them?” I asked with a giggle.
“Well first of all because it’s the new thing to get girls,” he said sarcastically, “and second, because my mother thinks I need them even though I don’t!”
“Then don’t wear them here then,” I said taking them off, “And anyway, what girl are you going to get by wearing these at night when no one can see?”
“You’d be surprised,” Norio said looking straight at me for some reason, “It seems to have worked on every girl…except one.”
“And who is that?” I asked smiling.
But before I could speak I heard a crashing sound of glass along with the constant arguing of my parents. The sound trembled through me like a cold draft of the beach outside my house. I gasped and stood up looking towards my door.
“You have to go Norio,” I said worried, “I have to see what that was about.”
“Fine, “Norio said standing up all of a sudden, “But tell me if you’re going to the pier tomorrow morning.”
“I don’t know Norio, what if my parents don’t let me?” I asked as my heart raced, “I have violin practice tomorrow any way.”
“Well you need a break one day. I promise it’ll be fun.”
“I don’t know Norio,” I wish I could but I’m limited in time.”
“It’s alright, I promise this will do you more good than bad,” he said already sitting on the porch’s edge, “Do you think I’d ever do anything that would harm you?”
I paused while my parents kept clamoring downstairs. I looked at my feet and started counting the stars on my socks. I didn’t know what to do then; I was too scared to do anything. It was until I felt a cold hand swipe across my face that I looked up. Norio held my face up and wiped the tears that I didn’t create consciously. I kept listening to my parents rage like wild animals under me and it kept becoming louder by the second. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and I ran into Norio’s arms.
“It’s alright,” Norio said soothingly, “Don’t cry, we’ll get over this together I promise.”
“Promise what?” I asked in between silent sobs, “No one can fix what is happening! No one listens to me! I’m not even there; it’s as if I’m trapped inside a world within a world where all I can hear is their clamor all day!”
“You’re wrong Destiny,” Norio said, “I care about you, and I promise,” he said picking up my face in his hands, “I’ll always be there.”
I sobbed, thinking that those were probably the same words my father used on my mother when they first met. We stayed like that until I heard the stomping of footsteps going up the stairs.
“You have to leave now!” I whispered.
“Promise me you’ll be there tomorrow then,” Norio said with a sly smile.
“Stop joking around and leave,” I said almost laughing for some reason.
“I won’t leave until you say yes,” Norio teased.
“Fine, I’ll go. Just leave before he comes in the door.”
“Fine,” Norio chuckled as he pushed himself over the porch.
“Be careful!” I exclaimed, and as I did Norio pushed himself upwards and kissed me softly on the lips.
“Don’t worry I will,” he said smirking.
I stood motionless as he found his way down from my porch and into his house next door. I could feel my face get flooded with blood under my skin as I replayed that scene over and over in my mind. All these years, I’ve only seen Norio as a great friend, but now, my thoughts were scattering everywhere as a new idea came to mind. Moments later, Norio came out from his own porch and waved me good night like he always had for years before.
I sat looking at the Japanese ocean before me; it flooded that one thought over and over in my mind. I could still feel his lips on mine, and it caused me deep pleasure I thought I would never feel in my life. I looked up at the extended sea and frowned. The horizon was right ahead, and it somehow distracted me from my fantasy. I have always hated the pier for this; it wasn’t the ocean itself, but the horizon. One would look at the sea and expect great things, but once they really saw it they could see how the horizon limits everything. Even if one can’t technically reach the horizon, if you keep following it land awaits. The same old land that is actually very priceless. False dreams and hopes awaited anywhere or so it seemed.
I decided not to look at the bothering horizon for now and focus on my reflection. The waves made the water uneasy, but I saw the reflection as clear as a mirror. I could see a girl with average black hair that went up to her shoulders, her big brown eyes shone even in the water, and that smile that spread across her face was heartwarming even to herself. I smiled as I realized the girl was me. When I looked in again I noticed the reflection was different. Instead of a young girl looking up at me, it was an old wrinkled face smiling gently.
“Ah!” I was my first reaction, “The old lady is drowning!”
I then, without thinking, slipped into the water only to realize that I was misguided. I went up to take a breath of air and felt completely stupid as I looked up at where I was sitting to see an old woman smiling warmly at me.
“I’m sorry how rude of me,” I started saying as I got back up to the pier, “I apologize for my stupidity!” I said bowing in respect.
“There is no need young one,” the old woman said, “I was just amazed to see a young woman like yourself so fascinated at nature.”
“Oh, thank you,” I said blushing.
“What a polite girl you have turned out to be,” the woman said in her crackled old voice, “I remember when I was young and energetic like you. The only difference, however, is that I was much less pure hearted.”
“Pure-hearted?” I asked making sure I heard right.
“Indeed,” the old woman said.
“Oh, I don’t think so,” I said looking down and blushing at the compliment.
“And why don’t you my dear,” the old woman said, “there are many people wishing to be like you and you can’t even see it in yourself.”
“I don’t think I can be,” I started saying, “and even if I wanted to it would be a waste.”
“Waste you say,” the old woman mirrored, “but I don’t think that and let me prove you wrong. You probably are here waiting for a boy to take you out.”
“Well,” I said blushing and looking down at my feet, “I guess you can call it a date.”
“Ah, I knew it,” exclaimed to old woman as she adjusted her shawl, “A pretty girl like you wouldn’t be out without a reason.”
“Well, I don’t know about pretty,” I said giggling as I spoke.
“You listen to old granny now,” the ancient lady said raising her voice, “Many people envy young girls like you. Many people have sinned intentionally to get what they want…but you haven’t.”
“What do you mean?” I asked getting an odd feeling.
The woman looked at me for a second and before she replied she looked down again.
“I used to be energetic,” the old woman said standing up, “and I have paid my consequences too. I have lived so long, that I’m just here, waiting for death to take me to h*ll.”
“H(ll?” I asked, “But I’m sure you haven’t done anything that bad.”
“You’re wrong young lady,” the old woman said looking at me, “the only place anyone can ever go to is h*ll.”
“I don’t believe that,” I said smiling, “And if you do believe you will go to h*ll because you have sinned before, I promise I’ll pray for you everyday so you are forgiven.”
“What a nice young woman you are,” the woman said approaching me.
She put her shawl around me for some reason with a different gaze in her eye. She didn’t even look human for a second.
“It’s too bad though,” she said looking me in the eye, “that it’s too late to save my soul.”
Before I could say a word, the old woman started changing. She somehow started shedding, and the skin that she left behind burned into ash. The only thing I could smell then was the stench of burnt flesh. The old woman literally stepped out of her skin to reveal an inhumanly beautiful young woman. I held on to the shawl she lent me for some reason, as I watched in complete horror and I looked closely to the woman’s eyes. They watched me for a minute as I started trembling in fear, those pitch black eyes examined me closely and she soon started laughing. Her laugh was evil and it made a sequence of electrical shocks move up and down my spine.
“Foolish mortal,” the woman said after she finished her laughing fit, “Now you shall believe me when I say all souls go to h*ll.”
“What do you mean?” I said not recognizing my own voice.
At first I thought I was imagining it, but then I soon realized that the voice I had was definitely not mine. I looked down and noticed a pair of old wrinkled hands faced upward. They turned when I commanded. I immediately panicked and felt around my face to comprehend. My face felt like it was made out of mountains and valleys, all wrinkled and withered. I looked over to my reflection to finalize my theory. I was right. Again an old woman stared back at me from the waters, except this woman wore the same expression I was probably wearing. I changed my expression, and the old lady from my reflection mimicked. I couldn’t believe it, but I was turned into an old lady.
“No,” I said as I looked up to the young terrifying woman in front of me.
“Stupid mortal,” she mocked, “only someone as pure hearted as you can fall for an old lady’s words.”
“You can’t do this!” I exclaimed with tears flowing down my eyes.
“Oh, yes I can,” she said crooning, “it’s very entertaining to fool people like you.”
“This can’t be happening,” I said more to myself than her, “I’m dreaming! This can’t happen I have a whole life ahead of me!”
“And so did the other victims,” the demon said, “Some were going to be great teachers, doctors, politicians, and parents… but they were unlucky enough to cross my path.”
“Please,” I begged, “I have a date today.”
“And you think I care,” the demon smirked.
“How long will I stay like this?” I asked sobbing.
“You have all day,” the demon said looking at me with her pitch black eyes looking through me.
“What? I’m only going to be like this today?”
“Don’t be stupid,” the demon raged.
“What do you mean then?” I asked in my new rough voice.
“From now until the sun sets,” the demon said in an eerie way, “that’s how long you can keep that soul of yours.”
“What? I don’t know what to do? How do I tell my parents? No one will believe me!”
“What an idiot human you are,” the demon said rolling her head to the side, “and since you’re so pathetic I’ll make this easy for you,”
The demon leaned over me, bringing those sinister black eyes ever closer to me. She seemed to be enjoying my pain and uncertainties.
“Since you have such a pure heart,” she started by stoking her hand over my chest, “I’ll give you a chance to go back to normal.”
She grabbed my aged face and put her lips next to my ear. She laughed quietly before she spoke and the vibrations of her voice lifted the hair on my own head.
“Give the shawl to someone else,” she said simply, “once you do that, you will become yourself again.”
I tried to speak, but I was too petrified to say a word. She pulled back from her close range and smirked.
“That’s all you have to do,” the woman said, “You will not die when the sun sets if you do this.”
I gulped and I finally found the courage to speak, “But who?”
“That all depends on you,” the demon said sinisterly, “it can be anyone.”
“Anyone,” I mirrored, “But what will happen if I give the shawl to them.”
“I just told you idiotic girl,” she said raising her voice, “you will turn normal… but your victim… she will turn old and die at sunset.”
“No! I can’t do it!” I said along with my conscience.
“Then I’ll see you after the sun sets,” the demon said laughing evilly.
“No! Don’t leave!” I begged, “There must be some other way!”
“Nope,” the demon mocked, “I gave you the way to reverse it, but Destiny here is too innocent and nice to do so.”
“Stop!” I said with tears running down my wrinkled mug.
“Sometimes, I’m afraid we have to wake up to reality Destiny,” she demon said softly but in an instructing way, “Sometimes, we just have to sin to get what we want.”
The demon turned away from me and started to leave as I just stood crying in disbelief.
“I’ll see you soon now won’t I?” the demon mocked, “Oh and before I forget,” she continued with an ominous smile, “You can’t tell anyone who you really are.”
With this, she laughed in her sinister way as the ground opened and she disappeared. I stood with tears trapped in my wrinkled face. I sat back down to try and make sense of all this madness. I looked at my reflection again, and I saw an old woman look back at me once again. I looked away from the hideous face in the reflection and felt tears of hopelessness fall down my face. I looked at my hands, old wrinkled and diseased with arthritis. There was a pain in my back every time I turned possibly suggesting osteoporosis. My pain mocked my foolishness, and my tears tried to console me, but it was no use. Crying wouldn’t fix the hole I fell in that day. Immediately I had to think of whom to give the shawl.
How will I get people to believe a story so the can just put the shawl on, I thought,
If I just tell them to put it on they’d probably think I’ve gone out of my mind.
I could pretend I’m selling a shawl and get someone nice enough to help an old lady.
No but who would do that!
I can try my parents…
No! Stupid how could you even consider that…
They’re not worth the struggle…
The only person left that would probably do it for me is…
“Destiny!” called a familiar voice.
Oh no, I thought.
“Destiny are you here?” called Norio.
Quick! Act quick!, I thought
“Yes, who’s looking for me?” I asked in my old crackled voice.
Stupid, I scolded mentally
“Oh, sorry,” Norio said smiling,” Ohio” (Good morning)
“Oh- ohio,” I stuttered stupidly as last night’s scene ran through my mind countless times.
“Excuse me,” Norio said bowing in respect, “But did you see a girl here by
I tried to tell Norio that it was me he was looking for, that I was the Destiny he came for this morning. I tried to tell him that I was the person he kissed last night, but nothing literally came out. My mouth moved but my voice wouldn’t say it. I tried again, but I then remembered the demon for a split second.
When she said I can’t tell anyone, I thought, she literally meant I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone.
“I’m sorry,” Norio said blushing, “What did you say?"
“Oh,” I said quickly making something up, “I-I saw a girl here, but an angry man came over and took her away, I’m pretty sure it was her father.”
Something my father would do, I sarcastically thought.
“Crap!” Norio said alarmed, “I have to go! Arigato!”(Thank you)
“Wait!” I exclaimed, “don’t leave!”
Norio turned and stopped for a second. I tried to catch up with him with my new, (or should I say old) fragile body.
“It’s alright old lady, you don’t have to run!” Norio said covering his mouth as he spoke.
“I am very sorry!” Norio said going down on his knees,
“I-I apologize greatly for calling you-“
“It’s fine,” I said interrupting him, “You could call me anything you like…young man.”
“Are you sure?” Norio asked looking up at me.
“Definitely,” I said with a smile I would usually give Norio.
Norio stood up trying to hide his blushing face. I laughed at his clumsiness when he tried to get up but almost tripped on the sand.
“I’m sorry,” Norio started, “but I need to go see someone.”
“Why?” I asked immediately so he wouldn’t leave.
“I…” Norio paused, “I got her into some big trouble.”
“How?” I asked dumbly.
“I told her to come meet me at the pier,” he said not facing me, “and she told me she may get caught, but I insisted she wouldn’t”
“Why did you tell her that?” I asked half-expecting to know the answer.
“Because…” he paused, “She’s always trapped in that house of hers and I thought a day out would cheer her up.”
Norio chuckled once to himself and turned to face me,
“I also wanted to tell her that I love her.”
I felt my face flame up as another memory that would tend to repeat itself entered my mind.
“Don’t go back,” I told him straight up, “She is probably being kept busy by that father of hers. Anyway, a girl like that wouldn’t blame you.”
“How do you know?” asked Norio looking straight at me with those sapphire eyes of his.
“I know…” I said, “Because my name is hers…Destiny.”
Norio laughed and gave me one of his adorable smiles.
“You’re funny old lady,” he said, “Well nice knowing you Destiny-“
“Wait,” I interrupted, “will you do me a favor?” I asked trembling.
“Sure,” Norio said with a smile, “Anything for a lady named after my love.”
If I don’t find anyone today, I thought, I might as well spend the whole day being happy.
“Be a dear,” I said as I blushed, “And can you spend the day with me?”
Norio gave me a look I didn’t really understand at first. I thought he would call me crazy and leave, but I still had that silver thread of hope that I was wrong at the same time.
“Why?” Norio asked politely.
“I…” I looked down. “I can’t tell you why…
I’m just…so lonely nowadays.”
“Well in that case, why not?” Norio said enthusiastically.
“Really?” I asked astonished.
“Well, you did ease my conscience, and anyway I can always speak to Destiny tomorrow,”
“Oh, thank you,” I said trying to bow.
“It’s fine,” Norio said stopping me from bowing, “I accept your gratitude.”
He led me away from the pier, where it all started and off to have some quality time with Norio. Deep inside of me, my conscience scolded me for my selfish wish. I knew I would regret having spent this day with him. If I turned back to normal I had no idea what to tell him, but ideas would come along, and this put my mind at ease for some time.
Norio got a taxi and I had no idea where we were headed. I resisted the temptation to ask Norio anything about our destination because I knew he would want to surprise me. Norio had always been a person of surprises, but unfortunately not a good surprise keeper. So, to give Norio they joy of surprising me I kept my mouth sealed about where we were going. We did talk about many things in the cab, however. It seemed that as if Norio was comfortable talking to complete strangers when he actually was usually very shy around them. It was puzzling to see him talking so lively as if he had known me as an old woman for so long. It was hard trying to not say “I already knew that” to Norio when he told me a secret or two. It was worth it though.
“We’re here,” Norio said telling the taxi man to stop.
“Where are we?” I asked hoping this would delight him.
“You’ll see,” Norio said trying not to laugh.
Norio helped me out of the cab and before me a world of colors and machinery lit up before my old eyes. I had didn’t even know the carnival was in town.
“Welcome to the Cultural Carnival,” Norio said taking me by the hand to the ticket booth.
“Cultural Carnival?” I asked wondering.
“It’s the one Carnival that has all kinds of things from all over the world,” Norio replied, “I was going to bring Destiny as our first date, but since she can’t I’ll try just visiting her tonight.”
“Tonight?” I asked remembering last night.
“I don’t mean it like that!” Norio suddenly said alarmed, “She’s my neighbor!”
“It’s quite fine shounen,” (Young man) I said trying to get in the old lady act, “You don’t seem like that kind of boy.
As we entered, I didn’t notice any of the amazing things there that day, but I noticed the amount of people.
I’ve hit a gold mine, I thought
I can give this shawl to anyone and get be with Norio for the rest of the
day…as my true self.
“Come on Destiny,” Norio said with a faint trace of redness on his face,
“Where do you want to go first?”
“Why…” I started, “I need to go to the restroom first.” I said regretting to use that excuse because of its nature.
“Oh, well then,” Norio said, “Go ahead, I’ll wait here on this bench.”
“Arigato shounen,” (Thank you young man) I said as I headed for the nearest restroom.
Here I saw all kinds of people I could give the shawl to. I first considered and old woman (like myself?).
She’s going to die soon anyway, I thought, she’s probably older than myself.
I followed the elderly lady outside, but before I could open my mouth I saw her reunite with an old man about her own age in a wheelchair. The couple kissed and went away before I could do anything. I could have reached them, they are very easy targets, but I just couldn’t. The man depended on the woman to live on, and I couldn’t take either of their happiness’s away.
I then saw a woman, middle aged and not very attractive.
Well maybe I could give this to her, I thought, she looks unsociable and not too much interested in doing much.
I approached her smiling and holding on to my shawl. The middle-aged woman smiled back. She seemed to be an easy target.
“Koinnichiwa-“ (Hello) I started to say, but the woman beckoned me to pause since her cell phone was ringing.
“Yes, this is her speaking,” she said to the person in the cell phone.
“Well I’m kind of busy right now, I think I may have a client asking for service.”
She paused to let the person on the other line speak.
“Well I don’t know I’m a doctor that’s what I do!”
I was tempted to just put the shawl on her until I heard the last phrase. She was a doctor, she cured people. I remembered the words of that the demon gave me about how many people with potential got cursed the same way I did. It wouldn’t feel right to ruin all those years of schooling, patience, and life energy this good lady had to go through.
I left the middle-aged woman while she was still speaking on the phone to avoid any complication. I then saw a young woman, she was just standing there with her long wavy hair blowing in the wind. She didn’t even look Japanese.
Well she isn’t from around here obviously, I thought, she looks too young to have any reason to live.
I completely ate my thoughts as I saw the woman open arms to a Japanese man. She embraced him and kissed him on the lips speaking with a perfect accent and vocabulary. A little girl with beautiful brown curls ran to the young woman and she laughed in the most contagious way ever. Her curls bounced as she jumped up and down asking to be picked up. I couldn’t ruin the life of a young woman older than myself when she just started a new one.
I then retreated to look for Norio, but my eyes caught a pleasing sight. It was Hitomo, from our high school. She was extremely popular though most of the girls hated her. All the guys would kill to go out with her despite her snobby self. She had a thing for Norio, but he wasn’t interested so because she noticed we were around each other a lot, she would pick on me. She did cause me some very bad times in my first year, like for example telling the whole school that my parents were going to get a divorce and that I liked this one girl in the senior class. It was perfect how she happened to be at the carnival I was at. What was even better was that I had a reason to curse this person who had caused me trouble before. I boldly approached her and started taking my shawl off in the process.
“Excuse me, shoujo?” (Young girl) I asked.
Hitomo turned around and betokened me to wait, but I was too impatient. All I could think of was putting the shawl on her to get all this madness over with. I noticed she was text messaging, but that didn’t interest me at all, all I wanted to do was get all of this over with. I started to put the shawl on her when she turned around… but then I saw the text message.
I’m sorry, the message read, But your mother and I have to get a divorce.
I then put the shawl back on my head and somehow connecting with her. All along, she had the same problem I had. I finally understood all her rudeness and how she got it. I felt her pain, and I didn’t pity her for once, I felt accompanied and understood.
Hitomo turned to face me with tears in her eyes. She wiped them away quickly and put her mean face on.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“Don’t cry shoujo,” I told her, “I went through the same thing also.”
“I don’t know you what are you talking about?” she asked rudely.
“Destiny,” I said.
I embraced her, and she did surprisingly hugged me back telling me how weird this was and that she is only hugging me because I am old and remind her of her own grandmother.
We parted ways shortly afterwards, and that’s when I remembered Norio. I ran back and he was still there looking out to the beach that was right next to the carnival. He turned to look at me, and at that moment all I could see was him. I had it bad. He didn’t even ask why I took so long, he just got up and led me to the carnival.
“How about we end with the Wheel of fortune?” Norio asked as her swallowed his last piece of cotton candy.
“Yes, sitting down for once would be nice.” I said sarcastically.
“You’re funny grandma,” Norio said throwing his stick away to go in line.
Luckily there was no line, so we got on quickly. We played the “Guess what I see game” and it reminded me of our old games as young children.
“It’s big, and striped with red and white,” Norio quizzed, “Guess what I see?”
“I don’t know I don’t see anything like that,” I said playing along.
“Come on Destiny, we’re very high up you can see.” Norio said.
“Uh…would it be that tent over there?”
“Yes! Now it’s my turn. Let’s see, it’s large, blue in the day, and it has no limit.”
“Hm, is it the ocean?”
“No! It’s not the ocean!” I said a bit too harshly.
Norio didn’t answer to this, except he went on a tangent.
“Do you hate the ocean Destiny?” Norio asked when the Wheel stopped at the top overlooking the ocean.
“No I don’t,” I said calmly.
“Then what is it?”
I sighed looked up to the horizon, “Just look at it…tell me what is the farthest point you could see?”
“The horizon, I guess.”
“The horizon? You hate the horizon,” Norio asked puzzled.
“Yes,” I truthfully answered.
Norio paused to try to see what I did. Then he asked, “But why do you hate the horizon?”
“It’s just,” I started saying, “It reminds me of the limits that I have to endure daily. The horizon is intangible and I know that, but like everything in life it ends. The sea is limited, water is limited, and even life is…what is there to like about that?”
“I see what you mean,” Norio said still looking out at the sea, “but then that’s how life is supposed to be. Our own destinies are limited. And if they weren’t just imagine the type of world we’d live in.”
I took in his words, and even though I still felt the same about the horizon, I saw that his words were even truer than my own.
“So what were you looking at anyway?” Norio asked changing the mood.
“The sky,” I said sarcastically, but the funny thing wasn’t my sarcasm, it was the need for both of us to laugh.
We got down and I felt like I was floating in bliss. I had an excellent day with Norio and I wouldn’t give this day up for anything. I looked out at the sea waiting for Norio to pay for the extended ride. I looked out at the sea… our sea, the sea he would never know belonged to us. I looked at the sun, the bright beautiful sun in the western horizon, it looked so beautiful once it’s started to set. At that moment, an electric shock shriveled down my spine.
The sun is setting, I thought, my day will be done in a couple of hours.
I felt weak, and intentionally let my shawl fall. If I would have had the energy, my knees would have been trembling. I couldn’t believe it. The day had gone by so fast, it couldn’t be almost over.
“Look mommy!” I heard behind me, “I’m an old woman!”
I turned suddenly to see the little girl I saw earlier with the bouncy curls. She had picked up my shawl and was trying to find a way to put it on. She found a way and with a big smile on her face she looked at it from above.
“Little girl,” I said alarmed, “This is mine.”
I took the shawl before she placed it on her head. She tugged on the shawl, but I gently smiled for I stopped her from placing it on her head.
“It’s mine! I saw it first,” whined the little girl.
“Look child,” I said gently, “This was a present for me when I was younger, and I wouldn’t want anyone to wear it who isn’t me. Would you like it if someone got one of your presents and started using them?”
The little girl looked up at me with watery eyes. She shook her head and then gently let go of my shawl.
“Thank you child,” I said smiling warmly.
A smile spread across the girl’s face, making me forget I had a couple hours to live. She expressed so much joy through those eyes of hers.
“Look mommy!” the girl said running to her mother, “I found grandma!”
“Yuka don’t be rude, that isn’t grandma!” her mother scolded.
“But she is old like her and she smells like her too.”
The woman looked up at me and smiled apologetically. I gave a warm smile in return and the child and her family walked away. For a brief second, I actually imagined that I was the grandmother of such a beautiful child. I imagined that I grew to be this old and enjoyed with just one day of happiness. When the girl turned to wave goodbye to me I strangely saw Norio in her face; but those eyes were entirely mine.
“Ready to leave Destiny?” Norio asked as he approached me.
“Yes, do me a favor and leave me at the pier you saw me at,” I said a bit sadly.
“Sure thing,” Norio said smiling.
“Arigato,” I said to him calmly.
Sayonara, (Good bye) I thought.
The ride back to the pier was as lively as the ride to the carnival, except thoughts of doom filled my head. I tried to keep up in the conversation by nodding my head or looking animated, but it was no use. Norio could tell something was eating me, but he didn’t dare to ask until we got to the pier where my life changed.
“My dear boy,” I started saying as I watched the sun tease me, “go home and take a good nights sleep for me. Will you?”
“But the day isn’t over,” Norio said as I started walking towards the pier.
“Just leave,” I told him, “I don’t want you to regret anything.”
I walked on top of the pier looking out at the ocean. The sea breeze played with the hair under my shawl, but I wasn’t leaving yet. I could literally see how much time I had left.
I couldn’t do it, I thought, I’m too weak to pass on this curse.
I turned and I saw Norio still looking at me with worried eyes. I noticed he had a plastic bag in his hand that wasn’t there before. I didn’t really care, however, what he had in the bag; I just knew I didn’t want him to see what was going to happen soon.
I sat down at the top of the pier letting my feet hand on the edge. I looked down at the rocky place I waited for Norio this morning and flushed. I felt Norio’s stare as he sat next to me. I sighed, wondering when he
“Ice cream?” Norio offered.
“I’m not hungry,” I said on an off tone.
“What’s wrong?” Norio asked in a distressed tone.
“The sun,” I said truthfully, “It’s setting.”
“Well all days have to come to an end,” Norio pointed out trying to change the mood, “that’s why there’s always a tomorrow.”
I paused thinking about how unfounded his words were. I looked up at the sun that kept teasing me.
“What if,” I started, “someone told you there was no tomorrow?”
“What do you mean?” Norio asked.
“I mean, what if the world ended tomorrow and you knew you had only today left. What would you do?”
Norio took his ice cream and put it in his mouth to think. When he took it out he spoke, “I think I would spend the day like I did today. Living life to the fullest.”
“Really?” I said laughing once.
“Yep” Norio said smiling warmly.
I stayed silent, letting all my memories flood my mind. I remembered all the feelings I had to leave and all the good moments I had. I thought carefully and realized, that I actually was happy today, and I wouldn’t regret being turned into an old woman. I actually achieved today’s dream of spending a day with Norio. I was actually very happy that I got turned into a woman. Because if I hadn’t I would have never found my true love. The person who did set me free. He kept his promise and did so much more, and even if he didn’t know me this morning, he keeps proving his love for me. I was worth going to h*ll for a day like this one.
“Destiny,” Norio said looking at the sun set with me.
“Yes,” I said finally in peace.
“We didn’t finish our game now did we?”
“It’s my turn now,” he said sighing.
“Go ahead,” I said looking off at the sea.
“It’s amazing,” he started, “it’s ancient but wise,”
“The ocean,” I said immediately.
“You didn’t let me finish,” Norio said chuckling.
“Sorry,” I said, “Go on.”
“It’s amazing. It’s ancient but wise, and even if she says it’s unlimited I
think she isn’t.”
I gave Norio a puzzled look since the only thing that could be was the sea.
“She has a whole lot to tell,” he continued, “and she has no limits if she puts her mind to it. Guess what I see?”
He turned to smile at my wrinkled mug. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and I said nothing even though I knew the answer. He could tell what I was thinking though because he nodded when my eyes met him. I turned my face away to the sea and sighed. Norio laughed when he saw I hid my face. He cleared his throat and continued speaking.
“I have to say something,” he said getting flushed.
“Go ahead,” I said literally counting down the minutes I had left.
“Promise me not to freak out alright,” he said half-laughing.
“I promise,” I said laughing once for what I thought was probably my last time.
“Well I don’t know how to say this,” he said looking down
“It’s how it is,” I said with a smile as I turned to face him.
“Well,” he started saying as he looked up to meet my eyes, “I think I love you.”
I felt a pain start radiating in my heart. It spread to my whole body and before I knew it I was trembling. Tears raced down my withered face and sobs escaped my mouth. Norio hugged me as I sobbed trying to comfort me.
“Why?” I asked sobbing. I didn’t expect this at all.
“I’m sorry,” Norio said, “It just sort of happened, I don’t know how to explain it.”
“But you said you loved the other Destiny,” I wailed.
“I do, I love both of you the very same way.” He said, “but somehow both of you got merged in my mind. When I’m with you I feel her presence.”
“Why?” I wailed again. I couldn’t tell him the reason he felt that way for me, I couldn’t even explain my own feelings at the moment.
“Stop!” I finally told him as I separated me from him, “Go home child and go live your life, find someone else!”
“But I don’t want to,” Norio said, “Holding my face like he did last night, “I won’t leave until you do.”
“It won’t happen,” I scolded in my old voice, “Go home and be happy like you were meant to be. If you stay any longer what you’ll see will destroy you!”
“I’ll leave,” Norio said, “If you come back tomorrow.”
“Don’t you get it there is no tomorrow!” I exclaimed angrily, “I’m not going to be here tomorrow not now or ever.”
“Then I won’t leave,” Norio said with the same expression he wore last night.
“Leave me alone and let me die in peace,” I said with hot tears streaming down my eyes,” I’m going to die today so just leave will you?”
“And how are you certain about that?” Norio asked, “Just because a doctor says so doesn’t mean-“
“No doctor told me! Destiny did!”
“Oh,” Norio said, “Well in that case, I’ll stay with you until you die. I made a promise to my Destiny that I wouldn’t leave her and today I broke it by taking you out. So the least I could do is not leave you.”
“You didn’t break that promise!” I said standing up, “Just leave,” I begged, “It’ll be fine she’ll understand.”
Norio paused for a second and plainly and calmly he said, “No.”
I wailed as I saw the determination in Norio’s eyes. He simply wouldn’t leave. Norio looked me deep in my eyes and I could see the pain in his also. He probably was thinking of a way to help. He looked away to hide his pain and for a split second I could see him focus on the water beneath us. I didn’t regard this and kept crying. The sun was only a sliver away from being completely hidden behind the horizon, and I could feel I had seconds left.
“I have to say,” I said between sobs, “I didn’t regret spending a day with you either.”
Norio looked up with an astonished face and I could see him starting to say something, but before he did I had to speak.
“I love you Norio,” I said letting the last tear fall.
“No-,” Norio started saying, “how do you know my name? … When I never told you.”
Norio stood up and walked towards me, but it was too late. There was a burning feeling that started in my hands. It steadily but quickly started moving to all the points of my body. I screamed in pain as Norio watched with an expressionless face. I looked at my hands as they started to burn like paper would in fire. Blood gushed out as the invisible fire ate my flesh away. As I burned, Norio sat next to me with concerned since he didn’t now what to do.
“What can I do?” he asked on the verge of tears.
The shawl, a voice whispered in my mind,
Give him the shawl.
I kept twitching due to the pain, and I looked up at Norio who was willing to do anything for the one he loved.
Give him the shawl, the voice urged.
Give it to him NOW!
“My shawl,” I said in between jerks and blood squirts. Norio immediately took off my shawl and looked at me intently.
“What do with it?” Norio asked with great faith in his voice.
You know more than anyone that’s he’s willing to save you, the voice said pleased,
He’s the only one who can.
I yelled as the sun had almost no trace in the sky.
“I’ll put it on,” Norio said desperately.
“No!” I yelled, “Put it over my face.”
And so he did, as he did, I felt myself slipping away from everything. The pain grew but I didn’t see the gruesome evidence. Once the shawl was over my eyes, I went black.
Where am I? …
What just happened?...
Am I dreaming?...
I see Norio…
I’m sorry dear Norio…
What are you doing?
No! Don’t take the shawl off my face!
You can’t find out who I was!
I can’t see you go through that pain…
I slipped away, but somehow I could still see Norio as he took off the shawl to see my real teenage lifeless body. I saw him put his head on mine and I couldn’t bear to watch the rest. It was as if, I was he for a second. I could feel his feelings, and hear his thoughts. However, I agree with the last phrases he thought (or said). It was the last thing I heard, and it made me love him so much more as I slipped into a stranger’s arms… to go home.
I’m actually glad I saw your face Destiny…
It gave me courage just now…
No wonder you knew my name…
He picked up my body and kissed my lips one last time.
I realized how much I love you…
Thank you for making me love you all over again…
I hope you find happiness wherever you are…
And I will be looking forward to the day I see you again…
If this is how fate had us written I’ll take it…
I don’t regret a thing…
And if I love in the future who knows…
Wherever you go who knows…
We’ll be happy though for sure…
But that’s all up to Destiny.
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