26th SCENE

The sound of footsteps, the sound of wind, the murmuring of distant waves. The mist has cleared, revealing the sakura forest in its full brilliance. Zoom forward…we catch a glimpse of blue from the midst of trees…the sakura forest gradually thins out to a few trees, then to a couple, then to nothing but a huge expense of sea, a thawed, pale blue of early Spring. The sound of footsteps grows louder, then stops. There is a soft thump, a rustle of paper, a flipping of pages, then a barely audible sigh.

(Kohei is seated on the ground, back leaning against the sakura tree nearest the sea. He is dressed in a white t-shirt almost completely covered by a huge, red, hooded sweater. The legs of his dark blue jeans are speckled with sand grains as he burrows his bare feet into the warmish sand. A grubby pair of Adidas sneakers hang by their laces from the lowest branch of the sakura tree. A notepad rests on Kohei's lap. A pencil is carefully poised between his fingers as he stares dully at the paper. He begins to write.)

Dear Angel,

I miss you.

(He pauses for a long moment. His pencil remains pressed against the paper.)

I pierced my ear this morning, using a needle. I ice-cubed my earlobe first, then I heated the needle over a lighter I stole from Ryu. Then I threw the needle away and got another new one from the packet that I bought last night. The soot would've given me the nastiest infection of my life.

(He pauses again.)

Then I did it. But then when Ryuchi saw it during lunchtime I went back home and did it all over again. It seems right earlobes are for faggots.

(Kohei rubs absent-mindedly at a Band-Aid haphazardly plastered around his right earlobe. After a moment, he continues.)

Guess whose earring I'm wearing?

I miss you.

Remember I told you yesterday I have to report for work tomorrow? Ryuchi says the boss will be in Hongkong for a week or so, starting tomorrow. So no one will know if I don't turn up. And he gave me this grin which made me wonder what Grammie saw in him to begin with, the skiving bastard. And…I think I must've said something while I was in that fuzzy state after waking from my coma, because he has been bugging me ever since about Grammie. I have no idea how he knows Grammie is Aiko.

How is Grammie?

I miss you.

Can you see this?

For how long will you be able to see these?

The doctor said it could be a next day next week next month kinda thing. When you're actually supposed to die, when you'll have to leave permanently. When you'll get to see Gummy again, and me, well.

How will I know?

Are you still around?

How are you ever going to let me know?

I miss you.

(Kohei drops his pencil onto the sand and once again stares dully at the notepad. A couple of minutes pass. He picks up his pencil again.)

I miss you.

I miss you.

I missed you everyday of the past week.

Love,

Kohei.

(Kohei hesitates. He gives a small half-cough half-laugh.)

A.K.A. Egg.

(Kohei tears the letter off the notepad and leans back against the sakura tree, slowly re-reading his words. A few long minutes pass as he stares blankly into the paper, humming very softly to himself. Then, expressionless, he folds the piece of paper into half.)

Picture this...you and me

Walking down a white sand beach…

(Corner to corner. Edge to edge.)

We're holding hands

The warm winds blow

We're all alone…

(Flipping up the newly formed corners, pressing them into first one triangle, then the next.)

All these dreams are fantasies

They're not real, not reality…

(Carefully, gently tracing his fingers along each neat crease.)

And now I cry over you

Nearly die over you

And all the bits and pieces of us that I try to find…

(Kohei places the paper boat next to himself, then proceeds to roll the legs of his jeans up to his knees. That done, he stands, paper boat cradled in his hands. The sigh of shifting sand punctuates each step Kohei takes as he walks towards the breathing sea.)

Are only paintings in my mind

Faded memories

Of another place and time…

(He stops at the edge of the water, where the fingers of the sea caress his feet, calling, cajoling.)

We were happy as can be

You were loving me…

(He wades in slowly, until the water covers his calves. Then some more, until the rolled-up ends of his jeans are soaked.)

And now it's just an image that I find

Like the paintings in my mind.

(Kohei stares unblinkingly into the clear water as it laps enticingly against the cuffs of his jeans. After a moment, he holds up the paper boat, then gently places it onto the water.)

When you left I fell apart

I was torn...you broke my heart

(The paper boat bobs innocently on the tremulous surface of the water. Kohei watches as it is drawn out to sea, then pushed back towards shore, then carried back out again on a small wave.)

And now I cry over you

Nearly die over you

And all the bits and pieces if us that I try to find

(After a moment, the water eats through the soggy bottom of the boat, and in a few seconds, swallows the small paper boat completely. Kohei stares at the orange-hued water for awhile more, then turns around and slowly wades back to shore. Damp footprints trail behind him on the sand as he heads towards the sakura tree where his shoes hang.)

Exist as paintings in my mind

Impressions of the way it was

Long ago

Somewhere back in time…

(Jeans still rolled up, Kohei calmly transfers the shoes to around his neck, then walks barefooted into the sakura forest, head bent low, hands swinging listlessly. The calling of birds and other forest creatures accompany his journey, as does the soft singing of the sakura forest as the sea breeze blows. The swinging momentum of his walking gradually causes the legs of his jeans to unroll themselves. Kohei doesn't notice. He strolls on distractedly.)

…Are only paintings in my mind…

(There is a sudden hush. Kohei carries on walking for a moment before he notices the dominating presence of utter silence in the forest. He stops and looks up, only to see…)

…A girl standing behind the star, illuminated faintly by its soft, pulsing light. Her hair shimmers, like a halo. Her eyes…shine. She is dressed in a light-blue sleeveless top and a jacket, and a knee-length denim skirt, and her smile is a sunbeam…

(…a solitary pink sakura, floating down towards Kohei's upturned face as he stares at it, transfixed.)

…Two delicate hands cup the star, which is actually a tiny lantern, made of ricepaper. The light within…that strange, flickering light…the shadows that dance across the ricepaper…

(The sakura, borne upon the playful breath of a sea breeze, dances past Kohei's face as it continues it journey down…)

Kohei carefully cradles the fragile lantern in his hands as she gently passes it to him. He peers closely at it…and suddenly sees something…

(…where it lies serenely at Kohei's feet.)

…something pink…and white…and pink…and white. Kohei looks up at the girl in surprise. She is staring at the lantern, her eyes exceptionally luminous, her smile especially bright. Softly, she says…

(Kohei tears his eyes away from the solitary sakura and gazes upwards…)

…My first sakura-fall, egg-chan.

(…only to be greeted by a magnificent sea of pink and white as all the sakuras gently descend from their delicate perches on the branches and waltz lazily down to the grass. Kohei gapes unbelievingly as the falling petals catch on his hair and his sweater, and reaches out to touch them even as they cloak the ground in a mosaic of pink and white. He steps back onto what feels like velvet, and laughs as he looks down in surprise, for sakura petals are spread over the entire forest ground like a mantle of pastel pink snow. Kohei turns around slowly in a circle, eyes shining, arms outspread, letting the warm sakura petals brush past his fingers, inhaling their sweet perfume, watching them spin, spin, spin merrily downwards, laughing out loud in wonder. And still they keep falling…)

…Kohei stares at Hiroko, who now seems very far away. He stretches out his hand one more time, forlornly. Hiroko starts to cry. A single teardrop falls through the doorway, floats for an instant in eternity, and lands gently on Kohei's cheek…

(…even as a tear spills over…)

…The teardrop runs slowly down Kohei's cheek, then falls again into the white void and vanishes forever…

(…and starts its slow descent down Kohei's cheek. Falling sakura petals softly kiss his face, and a single white petal tenderly brushes the tear away.)

…Kohei continues reaching out for Hiroko, even when the doors finally close. But just before they do, Hiroko manages a last sunbeam grin…

(Falling…and falling…and falling, until the branches lie bare and the ground can't be seen; until Kohei collapses onto his knees, exhausted and laughing, tears falling from his eyes.)

…Remember me this way, Kohei.

(…And the smile on Kohei's face is a sunbeam.)

(Past Kohei and the sakura forest, past the sighing sand and whispering waves, a fiery sun starts its glorious ceremony to welcome the advent of night. Apart from the waves, nothing moves, nothing sounds. Then, a movement breaks the stillness, although the source of movement can't immediately be seen. It appears to be…a boy, dressed in a white shirt and brown slacks, and a girl, dressed in a light-blue sleeveless top and a jacket and a knee-length denim skirt. Both of them slowly walk along, leaving footprints on the pure white sands of the beach, their fingers interlocked. Apart from the shushing waves, all is silent and serene. They stroll for what seems like an eternity towards the setting sun, then as they walk, they slowly start to fade, and soon nothing is left but the waves and the sand and the red, red sun.)

~~~~END~~~~

author's note:

Hey guys/gals, thanks for all the support so far, it's been really great reading all your comments!

I don't really know how this story came about…all I know is that when I first started it, I didn't imagine it'd last more than 10 scenes. =) I spent more than 2 years on it, but it's provided me with the most fun, and the greatest sense of accomplishment in my life so far. (Kinda sad cos after all it IS just a fic, but still…). This fic means so much to me because it represents everything I find beautiful in life, even though I might not have been able to do it justice with my mediocre writing skills.

I just need to thank a few people, the most impt being NED, who's been ceaselessly advertising this fic of mine to everyone who's willing to listen, and who's been providing me with the most support so far. Also to SPEED, my one-time, all-time favourite group…(to each his/her own, yes…after all, the lead character in the fic was inspired by Hiroko Shimabukuro). To a bunch of very important people in my life, who don't have any access to this fic at all (hahaha). And last but not least, to anyone who has read and enjoyed this fic, who has laughed and cried along with it as I have, and who still believes in a little bit of magic every now and then.

Cheers,

Cheryl.

10th march 2003