It was her favorite quote that he used to tell. He said she was made of a rib of him. He has been seeking her for life until he finally found her. Only till then his chest would stop hurting. Then they got married. The dagger of life slowly swallowed their love and dream up. They fought and he hated her childishness. Then he told her it was a mistake that she was not meant to be that rib. She left and wished him luck to find his true love. Years later he heard that she got married. Countless night when he smoked in the dark he felt that pain in his chest, just a bit so he could adjust his breath to ignore it. He met her once at the airport. Through the gate he saw her standing near the entrance. It was one week after when he learned of her deadly accident. She was killed on her trip. He recalled the last time when they met. She smiled at him and said long time no see. He felt warmth in his chest. And now it felt empty and hurt. He knew she was that missing rib.
She woke me up in the middle of the night. She said I was screaming out loud, sweating and panicking. I thought of the dream. It was the same one I’ve had hundreds of times, usually when a girl was around. It didn’t feel like a nightmare because there was nothing scary about it. It was just a snowy night and a train called Cassiopeia, an express overnight train running from Ueno to Sapporo. It was mostly the feelings attached to it that made me exhausting. Right, the feelings. It felt like Tetris. Unlike other games that either shooting space shuttles or killing zombies, Tetris is confusing in some way. Different shapes fell down one by one to the playfield and combined with others. Then, then it just disappeared. It just felt like that. Felt like you don’t know what you are doing, aimless and endless. Like being rushed and chased. And the feeling continues.
(–Uehara Ryo, Saikou no Rikon)
It was quiet in the room. She was put on a drip after the operation. It didn’t hurt as much as the last time, she thought after getting her conscious back. Then she thought it might have been a mental breakdown that had killed all her physical senses. Another child had gone to her list of murder. After her first abortion, she always thought these memories would haunt her endlessly. The pain, the fear, the guilt, the blood. But sometimes it appeared to her that it was like drowning in a weirdly painful joy. Pain was a side effect of loving. Did it happen when the first time he threw her against the wall or when he kicked hard in her stomach or when he punched her until she thought her eyeballs would shatter? This sick relationship had sucked all her energy yet she kept on feeding it. She felt like on drug. She looked outside of the window. The sky was covered in dark red. Like the night when she got stabbed years ago. She smelt blood.
I rushed to find his painting album when a friend mentioned that he had just published his first. After searching through several bookstores I found a soft-covered album colored in black with the title painted in silver and his name on the bottom. It had a single lettered name, S. For a moment I wasn’t sure if I should pick it up. I thought I’ve forgotten it all yet all the memories came back fiercely like a tsunami that had overwhelmed my brain. I quickly paid and rushed back home. I lit a cigarette and finally sat down with the album in front.
It all happened in my senior year of high school. A kiss that had haunted me days and nights. It was so simple when it started. The complication escalated quickly when I somehow decided to kiss him in public, and when the others looked us frightened as if it was wrong. Two boys kissed. That was it. The next thing I knew my parents were trying to send me out of the country. Then I did something I would regret for the rest of my life. I gave in. I knelt down and said it was him who seduced me, that I was straight and that I didn’t know anything. Lies. The lies that the world would believe to be the truth. I acted as the victim. He called me once. He asked why. I couldn’t speak. He hung up without waiting for my answer though I couldn’t even give one.
I heard he dropped out. I heard his dad kicked him out. I heard he was still in town. I heard…… For a long time I couldn’t think of him. His name became a dagger constantly stabbing my heart. I couldn’t imagine how he could survive through. After all I was the weaker one. I opened the album. It was beautiful, peaceful in a desperate way. I flipped through the pages until I saw me. I was smiling with sunlight dancing on my skin. It was titled Happiness. I couldn’t help my eyes were blurred. I tried to breathe slow. The ones after seemed to be somehow different, gloomy. He went to a lot of places. There were ocean, desert, plateau, prairie and more. And the last one was him, a view from his back standing on the top of a mountain. He was thin yet strong. Pride, that was the title. I remembered back then how he refused to apologize, how he insisted it was not a mistake, how he fought against the world when I pushed all the pressures on him. I felt breathless. The darkness encroached around my field of vision and I was suffocated.
I remembered the first time we talked. I was following him home after school. He turned around and asked if I wanted to walk beside him. He smiled, looked like an angel that lightened up my surroundings. That was all I wanted.
He thought of the last time she was at his place. She was leaning close to the window staring outside. Her hair was still half wet from the shower a little while ago. He couldn’t figure out what she was thinking because her eyes looked empty. He felt like she was smiling yet in a way as if she would be gone again like always. Wanderlust. She stood still. Only her thin long fingers moved as she smoke. There was half pack of mild seven left on the table. She’d have that finished quickly. He only smoked once and she laughed at how his face turned purple from choking. That was one of the few times she laughed in front of him. He felt dizzy. But it was addicting. Though he wasn’t sure if it was the cigarette or the girl. She would come to him once in a while when the man of her love affair went back to his wife. They barely talked. He was used to waking up in the empty room, but the smell of the cigarette smoke reassured him her existence. He lit a cigarette, put it on the table and went to sleep.