Author's Note: I've noticed that 'A Look at Days Gone By' is going a lot longer than I thought. I'm about to put it on hold for a while. (No, it's not done. It'll just go on hold. You'll see why at the bottom.) Meanwhile, this has been on my mind since I wrote one of those looks back, so I've now focused on it as a story line. Hope you enjoy it!
They hadn't had a day like this in a long time. A special festival had come to town and everyone went, including Sakura, Li, Madison, and Meilin. The four had enjoyed themselves so far and the day was just getting started.
After what had to be weeks of looking back at the past, Li was just happy to be moving on with the present. Not that he didn't like looking back at the days of the Clow Cards, but for at least one day, Li wanted to focus on living life the way it is now.
They had spent the day together so far, but after having lunch, everyone seemed to have gotten separated. Sakura had gone into one of the crafts exhibits with Madison and Meilin went looking for a restroom. Li was pretty lost, so he looked around the festival, hoping to find any sign of his friends, but they were nowhere to be found. Then he stumbled upon a lone tent. There were no other booths or exhibits surrounding the tent, and it made Li feel uneasy. It must have been curiosity that made him go in.
Li's curiosity was increasing by the second. The tent was very dark. There were gothic items hanging on strings and smoking skulls on lone tables. The whole tent had a dreary atmosphere.
"Hello there, young man."
Suddenly, two blue candles lit up near a table. There was an old man sitting at the table. He wore a black hood and robe, and generally looked very creepy. His voice sounded very calm, yet menacing.
"I'm sorry," Li backtracked. "I must've stumbled in here by mistake. I'll…go now."
"What's the hurry?" the man asked. "You'd be surprised how often people run away from this place. They're afraid of seeing what their future holds."
Li scoffed. "You're a fortune teller?"
The old man shrugged. "I prefer the term 'soothsayer'. I am by no means one of those hokey carnival fortune tellers. For you see, I can really see into your future. Not only that, but I can also show it to you. Your future before your very eyes."
Li scoffed again. "Heard it all before. It's one of those fake carnie tricks."
The old man chuckled. "No, young man, I am no fake. I am very real. Of course, I understand why you're so skeptical…Li."
Li was shocked. "…How did you know my name?"
"I know a lot about the people who come in here," the old soothsayer said. "Their pasts are instantly revealed to me. But it is not their pasts I am concerned with, it is their futures. So will you let me show you yours?"
Li blinked. He didn't know what to say. This fortune teller knew his name and that freaked him out. But before Li could say anything, the old man spoke again.
"Or before you give me your answer, let's wait on your little friend. She should be coming in right about…now."
Li didn't believe it. That's why it scared him so much more when one of his friends DID come in.
It was Madison. "Li, Sakura asked me to look for you and…you look like you've just seen a ghost."
Li turned his wide-eyed head to the old man. "How did you…?"
"You still don't believe in me, Li? Maybe I'll have better luck with your friend."
Madison blinked. "Who are you?"
"I am a soothsayer. I reveal the future to anyone who comes into this tent. And I can reveal your future."
"Oh, it's like one of those other fortune tellers," Madison thought.
"NO! I am NOT like any of those other fake fortune tellers. I am an actual soothsayer. Not only can I tell you your future, but I can show it to your before your very eyes. Now doesn't that intrigue you…Madison?"
Madison took a step back. "How did you know my name?"
"You're really starting to scare me now," Li stammered.
"Do not be afraid of me. I can do you no harm. I believe the only thing you fear is the future."
Madison frowned. "I don't fear the future."
The old man grinned a toothy smile. "Then let me show it to you. Let me bring your future to life!"
Madison looked at Li timidly. "W-What do you think?"
Li took a deep breath. "What harm can it do?"
The old man grinned again. "Wonderful. Shall we begin?"
The soothsayer thrust an arm out and the rear curtains instantly closed. Then he stood up and approached the nervous Madison and Li.
"I will now take you five years into your future," the soothsayer said. "For that, you'll need to close your eyes."
Reluctantly, the two friends closed their eyes. Li immediately began to think that this would begin the whole false illusion. Then he began to feel heat. It was from smoke being created.
"You two can open your eyes now."
Li and Madison opened their eyes in time to see what looked like a huge church. There wasn't a seat left, for the entire church was full.
"What is this?" Li asked.
"Looks to me like a wedding ceremony," the soothsayer said casually. "Oh, but I wonder who could be getting married. Why don't we find out?"
The soothsayer tossed down a smoke ball as everything in front of Li and Madison was covered in smoke. They were being taken to their futures. And whatever it held, Li had no idea. But he would soon find out.
When the smoke cleared, Li and Madison found themselves in what looked to be a small room. There were tuxedos lying around and everything a groom would need. There was also one person lying around next to the dressing room.
Madison gasped. "Eriol!"
She tried to run up to him, but the soothsayer stopped her. "The young man cannot hear you. For you see, they are in the midst of their present and we are merely watching them. We do not exist in this reality."
Madison looked on in awe. Li knew she had to be very happy to see that Eriol had kept his promise. He really did come back to Japan to be with Madison.
Eriol was looking at his watch impatiently. "Are you done? You're going to be late for your own wedding!"
A familiar voice came from behind the dressing room. "Just have to put that last shoe on. Ok, I'm done."
Li and Madison looked on as an older version of Li came out of the dressing room, dressed in a tuxedo.
The younger Li knew what this meant. "It's me. I'm the one getting married. They really couldn't stop me! No matter how much the family didn't want it, they couldn't stop me! I'm actually getting married to…" Then a disturbing thought hit him as he looked up at the soothsayer. "I…AM marrying Sakura, right?"
The soothsayer grinned. "Let us see."
The soothsayer threw down another smoke ball. When the smoke cleared, Li and Madison were in another small room, much like the last one. This time, there was an elegant young lady in a blue dress waiting patiently by the dressing room.
Madison breathed softly. "It's me."
Li was amazed at how beautiful Madison had become. She had blossomed into a very attractive young woman. But Li was more concerned with who was behind the dressing room. A sinking feeling hit him. There was still a chance it could be…Meilin.
Then the dressing room door flew open. Out of the dressing room came a beautiful, ravishing young woman with a very elegant white dress. Li smiled when he saw who she was. In all her beauty, there was Sakura.
Madison's older self giggled. "You're going to be late, Sakura. Haven't you ever been on time for anything?"
Sakura beamed. "I won't be late to my own wedding, Madison. Luckily, I have my very best friend to make sure I get there on time."
Sakura was about to walk out, but Madison's older self held her by the arm. It looked like she had one more thing to say.
"I'm really honored that you chose me to be your maid of honor, Sakura. And I know we've been best friends our whole lives. This…won't change anything, right? Best friends forever?"
Sakura gave her friend a big hug. "You know it. Best friends forever. Until the very end."
Li looked on at the touching scene and smiled. "Our future looks pretty good."
The soothsayer shook his head. "Does it really? You say that now, Li, but I am not convinced. I believe we need to take a look further into your future. Oh say, maybe about 10 years. You two should probably close your eyes again."
Li and Madison closed their eyes again. They could feel the heat from the smoke coming on. They were being taken further into their future.
The smoke cleared again. Li and Madison found themselves in an unfamiliar house. But Li immediately noticed how nice the house looked. It looked very clean, but the lights were out.
The living room was dark with the exception of a lamp. Someone was waiting by the door. It was Madison. She looked very sad as she waited by the door.
"Stop waiting, Madison," a voice called out. It was Eriol. "I'm sure they'll be here. If anything, I'm sure they'll at least call."
The older Madison hung her head down sadly. She just kept waiting by the door and started clutching the cordless phone. Then the doorbell rang. Madison's face immediately lit up and she ran over to answer the door. She was very excited to see an older version of Li and Sakura at the door. And to the younger Li's surprise, Sakura was holding a baby.
"Sakura!" Madison squealed. "You came! I…"
"I'm so glad I found you, Madison," Sakura cut her off. "I'm really in a bind. Our babysitter cancelled on us and we almost had to cancel our reservations. Li surprised me with a special dinner at this quaint little French restaurant. Anyway, I was really hoping you could take care of the baby for me. Here you go."
Madison frowned as she took the baby. "But Sakura…"
"Thank you so much, Madison!" Sakura sighed in relief. "You really are a friend. We'll be back for him at 11. Thanks, Madison."
Sakura and Li walked away before Madison could even get a word in. The younger Li and Madison wondered what she was so sad about.
Then the older Madison revealed the reason for her sorrow. "Sakura…you didn't even remember it was my birthday."
Madison put the baby gently on the couch and rushed to her room in tears.
The younger Madison was hurt. "Sakura…forgot my birthday? She would never do that…would she?"
The soothsayer shrugged. "Apparently she did. Real shame. Only took her five years to completely forget."
"Five years?" the younger Li asked. He knew where this was going. "You aren't suggesting that Sakura forgot about Madison because…of me, are you?"
"I didn't say that," the soothsayer said casually. "You said it, not me. Oh, but I still think we're missing out on something. I think it's time for us to go further into the future. About 25 years. Close your eyes again."
Li and Madison closed their eyes again as the smoke began to surround them. Li was more than disturbed by what he had seen, but probably not as much as Madison was. He could only wonder what the future had in store for them next.
The smoke cleared again. Li looked around to see people gathering around a plot of dirt. Then he and Madison gasped. It was a funeral. Someone was being buried, but Li and Madison couldn't tell who it was.
"I think we're a little too early," the soothsayer said. "Let's fast-forward about a few hours."
The soothsayer threw down another smoke ball. When the smoke cleared, the crowd of people was gone. Only an older Li remained by the grave. The younger Li walked up to the grave and felt his heart sink when he saw whose tombstone it was.
It was Sakura's.
The younger Li and Madison felt tears come to their eyes as they saw the horrifying sight. In 25 years, Sakura would be dead.
"How did it happen?" the younger Li asked.
The soothsayer shrugged casually. "You're about to find out."
The older Li knelt down near the grave and continued mourning. Then someone else came up to the grave, wearing a black dress and a veil. It was Madison.
"I hope you're satisfied," she said bitingly.
Li's older self got to his feet and wiped a tear. "I didn't mean for it to happen."
"Yeah, but it did!" the older Madison snapped. "If it wasn't for you, Sakura would still be alive! You should have been there!"
"I didn't know!" Li sobbed. "I didn't know that guy would shoot her! I didn't think those five minutes would matter! I thought she'd be ok if I were only five minutes late! I didn't know!"
Madison's older self glared hatefully at the older Li. "You were a curse from the start. I never should have let you get close to Sakura. The day you two got married, you took her away from me! We were never best friends after that day! You took Sakura from me! And now, she's dead because of YOU! I hate you, Li Shoran! I hope your conscience eats away at you for the rest of your life! You not only destroyed a lifelong friendship, but now my best friend is dead because of YOU!"
Madison's older self then ran away in tears. The older Li didn't know what to think. He buried his face in his hands when he heard those words. Then a friendly hand patted Li's older self on the back.
It was Eriol. "She's just angry. She didn't mean it. I'm sure she'll be fine."
"No she won't," the older Li said. "Because she's right. I took Sakura away from her…and I destroyed their friendship."
Then the smoke started up again. The younger Li and Madison were in utter shock over what they had seen. Was this really their future?
The smoke cleared. Li and Madison found themselves back in the tent. The visions were done, but that last vision was so horrible. Li could only wonder if that was really his future.
The soothsayer chuckled. "Looks familiar, doesn't it, Madison?"
Li didn't understand what that meant at first. But Madison knew exactly what he meant.
"The way I acted at the end. The way everything went down. It was just like with…my mother. Everything that happened to me was just like what happened with my mother."
Then it hit Li like a ton of bricks. It was like the story Madison shared with him that one day he shopped for Sakura's birthday present. She told him about the reason her mother hated Sakura's dad so much. It was because Madison's mom and Sakura's mom were the best of friends. Then their friendship drifted apart after Sakura's mom got married. When Sakura's mom died, Madison's mom blamed Sakura's dad and she blamed him for their friendship ending. She thought Sakura's dad took Sakura's mom away from her.
"It's the sins of the father," the soothsayer said ominously. "Or in this case, the sins of the mother. It appears as if the future destines for you to become like your mother. And fate has destined you two to become bitter enemies."
Li didn't like that. Neither did Madison. They looked into each other's eyes and tried to find answers. Their eyes only read confusion, sadness, and a desperate cry for help.
"That can't happen," Madison said, her voice cracking. "Can it? I don't want to go through life hating you, Li."
"Isn't there any way for the future to change?" Li asked. "It can't be like this, can it?"
The soothsayer shrugged. "Well, there is a chance. In fact, it's more than likely that won't be your future."
Li and Madison suddenly glared at the soothsayer angrily. This was all a hoax? This horrible scene was false the whole time?
"So you're telling us that you lied to us?" Li demanded. "You scared us all like that over some fake vision?!"
"It's not fake!" the soothsayer said defensively. "You don't understand. That's the future as it stands right now. For that future to take place, you'd all have to leave absolutely everything the way it is. But you see, the future is always in motion. With every step you take, the future changes. In fact, I'm always told that my visions never come to pass 99 percent of the time. There's always room for the future to change.
"But consider those a visions a warning, For you, Li, I want you to cherish every moment you have with Sakura. Don't ever let her go and never take her for granted. You'll never know when it'll all end.
"And you, Madison, I want you to treasure your friendship with Sakura. The kind of friendship you two share can never truly be broken. Sakura's life will drastically change in the next ten years. It's up to you to make sure your bond of friendship remains strong and never breaks. You must never let Sakura forget that you two will be best friends forever. For if you do, then you will stray down your mother's path and you will ultimately be miserable."
There was only silence after that. Li and Madison spent the next minute looked deep into each other's eyes. They didn't want their friendship to fall apart. They didn't want to lose Sakura in 25 years. They wanted things to stay the way they were. But that grim look into their futures made them wonder if their happiness was truly meant to be.
"Of course, I don't want you two to look at this as the end of the world," the soothsayer continued. "I just want you to see this as a reminder that things aren't always meant to be a bed of roses. There will be challenges on the road of life. But if it makes you feel better, I am very confident that you can all overcome these little challenges and live full, happy lives."
No one said anything. Li and Madison were still lost on what to say. This had been such a moving experience.
"Li? Madison? Where'd you guys go?"
That was Sakura. She was calling from outside. Li turned to the soothsayer. "We have to go. Um…do we owe you anything?"
The soothsayer shook his head. "All I want is for you, and Madison, and Meilin, and Sakura to remain friends until the end of time. That is payment enough for me."
Sakura kept calling out, so Li and Madison cautiously headed out, looking back once more at the mystical old soothsayer. When they got outside, there was Sakura with Meilin and they both looked very impatient.
"Where have you guys been?" Sakura demanded.
"We've looked everywhere for you two," Meilin added.
"We…were just at that tent back there," Li answered.
Meilin looked back behind Li. "What tent?"
Li didn't like the sound of that. He and Madison looked back to see that the tent they had just come out of…had vanished without a trace. They were dumbfounded.
"We're going over to the Ferris Wheel," Sakura said cheerfully. "You guys coming?"
"We'll…meet you there," Li said slowly as he looked at the vacant lot.
"We'll…catch up to you," Madison added. Her jaw had just about dropped open.
Sakura and Meilin shrugged and ran over to get in line, but Li and Madison were still struck by the sudden disappearance of the soothsayer's tent.
"W-W-What do you think this means?" Madison asked timidly. "We couldn't have imagined the whole thing. It was just…so real."
"I don't know what to think," Li said ominously. Then he looked to the sky. "I just don't know."
They didn't want to be there anymore. It was just too strange. So Li and Madison turned to find the Ferris Wheel line. Li tried to sort this out, but it was just too weird. Was this a sign? Was this a divine intervention? Was someone watching the relationship of the four friends from up above? And why did he have to see such a grim view of the future?
Li couldn't find the answers that day. Something inside him told him he never would. But one thing was for sure. Any sign of a hateful relationship between Li and Madison, a relationship in which they would fight over Sakura, had died that day. They both loved Sakura and they would both accept it, for they were friends too.
Still, neither Li nor Madison would ever forget the strange soothsayer or their day at the festival that day.
Update: I'm pretty much set to pause 'A Look Back at Days Gone By' in a few days, because my pet project is almost finished. I'll let you all know what it is soon.
Any comments? So what did you think? Let me know by reviewing below.