Alright, well it's been good telling ya'll this story. All good things come to an end though, and here's the end of this journey. Thanks for the support, and keep following cause there's yet more to come from me. This part might be slightly more confusing due to the lack of some punctuation (intended, to create a mood). I got a lot of requests to let Kari and TK stay together, but the last part I put together is so twisty that everyone will be satisfied and unsatisfied at the same time; you'll both love me and hate me, or probably just love me...hehe......but here's one thing you have to understand; I didn't make them do anything they did. I just wrote down what they told me to. Ok? I'm just telling it to you like it happened, honestly.
Barely the Beginning.
The circle comes full round; nothing that happens does not come back to it's origin. That's why six months later we were at the basketball courts, watching the ball slapping the rubber; it was warm yet cool that day, the freshness of spring and the promise of summer whispering around us.
I'd like to take off two adjectives to Kari, she said nervously, and I knew what she meant.
Not my-girlfriend-Kari. Just Kari.
Half-sad and half tired, I turned away; still in love and tremendously sorry, but the decision was not hard. A strange sense of bittersweet satisfaction flooded me as we walked towards the school, separated by the world that had put us together. We stepped through the great doors as though stepping through a portal to the new future; but beyond the scratched steel lay just more hallways and half-alive rooms where shreds of memories hung like the little torn piece of streamer from the ceiling.
It was a Christmas party in Mr. Nomura's class....the only thing I felt was mistletoe when I remembered, and the hard fingers on my arm.
None of that! Nomura's voice said sharply, and we stood tense for a minute.
Then all three of us laughed.
If I could put together all the lost feelings and consolidate them, if I could bring every lost word that I wanted to tell her and write a book, if I could make her feel what I felt on those cold January nights maybe things would be different.
Or maybe they'd still be the same, but I wouldn't. She doesn't change, ever constant, ever careful and cautious; a restless boredom brushes her delicate features as she lounges on the guardrail. She studies some ever-vanishing distant point, and her fingers twitch as though she'd like a cigarette. Her brown hair frames her face in ever messy strands and swirls, and she shakes it back impatiently.
I used to be afraid of you, you know... she tells me, and I nod dumbly as though what she said has some huge significance.
But now I'm not anymore; I'm just not. she repeats, seeming frustrated. She turns to me for understanding, but all I can offer is regret.
You don't understand! she spits out tensely, and I whisper to myself, I do, very calmly.
When I take her by the shoulders she seems to shrink under my touch; I notice there are slight circles under her eyes and her mouth is cool and nervous; her beautiful, curious mouth, the usually blushed lips pale. She's stained them a beautiful shade of red, and they look guilty.
You want to kiss me one last time? she asks, and the words are a slap in the face themselves.
I'd like to kiss you, not those lips, I tell her slightly cold and disgusted, and terribly sad.
She recoils from my words as though they physically bit into her; she's beautiful to the point that it hurts me with it's intensity. However, I feel nothing at all, and it's so strange not to be feeling a certain emotion from her that I feel very much alone in my own world and very unsure.
We hug tight, trying to make it go away, but it's permanent now, written with a magic marker on our nametags, and for all the trouble she went to I offer to walk her to her car. It must've been hard, I think, but instead of sympathy I only feel a strange sense of amusement.
Outside, a fresh new world awaits; she's already got a small pot of Vaseline on her dashboard to remind me that summer is here, and she glosses those gorgeously guilty lips with a swipe.
Have some, don't want your lips getting burned.....she tells me tensely, and we sit in a silence lightly moderated by the quiet background noise of traffic; the trees on the street, shadowing her car watch us through their fresh green tresses, whispering small particulars about us to each other. Maybe they're saying,
How come they don't kiss anymore?
She flips through the stations, indecisive; what shall it be at the moment? Snatches of songs play through the warm, breezy silence, and she leans back against the leather upholstery.
I'll miss your car, I tell her, and she gives me a wan smile to reassure me that it's funny. Maybe it's the fact that we're afraid it's true that makes it so terrifically un-funny, and I can't stand the non-conversation anymore; the fact that I don't feel like crying scares me, and I stare her straight in the eye.
Remember that time when you and me where out on those basketball courts...maybe six months ago, just watching clouds and waiting for our friends to show up? I ask, staring unseeing at the street ahead of us.
We're sitting in the car with the doors open, and she looks at me unsure, and nods.
That night, when you fell asleep on the couch, the last thing I thought was that I'd get to tell Tai I slept with his sister. To me, it seemed horribly funny at that moment, even though it wasn't the technical truth. It was just the idea. I mean, here you were snoozing next to me wearing everything short of a button up red flannel nightgown, looking so innocent and little. The very idea was preposterous, but it made me laugh for a short second because I could see Tai's face.
And? she asks, looking very uncomfortable.
Four months later after you fell asleep with your fingers still dug into my back on my bed, I thought, I might really have to tell Tai I slept with his sister. Except this time it wasn't funny anymore.
She's slightly pale, maybe because she remembered, or maybe because she's so nervous; either way, I can tell she wants me to stop.
The short point of my story is, I continue, sometimes you have the exact same thing. It's only the setting or the time that's different. People remain basically the same........which means, four years from now if I meet you we stand the same chances of falling in love again.
She considers the idea, and turns to me a unsatisfactory face; her smile is half-dead and she looks discontented, but the feeling is genuine.
Maybe. she tells me, and checks the mirror.
Yes Kari you still look the same. Why the fuck are you checking the mirror? Do you think you've changed in the last half-hour? Or are you in love with your reflection?
I don't say that out loud; I've never said it out loud, and I've always wanted to. Even when I loved her.
Look, I say, and shift in the seat. Maybe I'd better go. I'd like to go, matter of fact.....
Ok, she says lightly, and her eyes are completely clouded by the warring emotions behind them.
Should you ever chance to come back, you know where I'll be waiting for you.
She nods, sticking the keys in the ignition and her mouth is bright and sad, her eyes glistening and shimmering, watching me intensely.
I close the door quickly and let the fresh air envelop me, and she speeds away, the bus transit of the past long forgotten. With a license comes freedom, freedom from those long introspective minutes on the hard plastic seats, that place of penance that brings us to think of our sins while we're jostled and bumped by the sad, broken pavement. For her, it was freedom from me; I don't scare her anymore, and that's all that matters. I ought to feel sad and tormented, but I don't. Instead, I sit on the curb with my head in my hands, and it's then I realize.
I'll eighteen, it's my birthday tomorrow.
A year flew past me tangled in between her messy hair, between that mouth and between those legs; a year escaped me without notice, sending me an early birthday card to forever remind me.
It was Tuesday.....October.........sometime when you told me you loved me.
I can't believe I forgot.
God, what a fucking mistake, I should have written it down, but after another minute of sitting there it suddenly doesn't really matter.
I feel slightly empty when I stand up, as though she'd been crouching inside me and when I stood up she fell off. Slowly, I walk to the bus stop near the school, and sit on the bench.
I make the mistake of turning my head.
God! NO! and the pain rushes up from my chest like knife splitting and cracking my ribcage! No
clinging to the plastic surface, worn and slightly more dirty than the first time I scratched it in, so long ago, so long it seems like that time never existed. The excruciating gap between my heart and my blood seems to say otherwise.
She was lost in a confusion of short, crackling tense moments, and tiny lapses; her mouth looked red and twisted in the dark gold light, and in a small, lost voice, she whispered,
I love you.
A wave of terrifying feelings and pleasure hit, and her fingers dug into my back; she bit her lip hard and screamed silently, engulfing me in a tangle of legs, arms, mouth, then, hair, messy and shiny and minty, and I wanted to call out something but my words were shut tight inside my mouth that night, all I could do is whisper her name brokenly, over and over and over again, Kari! kari.
I remember laying there, the frost icing up the windowpanes as she slept in the blue streetlight, my hand on the hard, firm curve of her hipbone. Maybe I'd been wrong in doing what we did, the wrongest I'd ever been in my life. Now, it was the only thing that I could remember, and it left me feeling sick, physically ill. My head pounded, and I entered the apartment silently.
Hi TK, said my father, looking up from his paper.
I shut my door and crawled into bed, nauseated, her lips playing on my stomach muscles still, her giggle softly surrounding the stillness around me.
It hurts, God it hurts, god it Hurts, GOD IT HURTS!
And that's the rhythm playing in my head right now, I'm driving down Kurusu Avenue and my hands are shaking, I can't see, and the windshield's blurred up...or maybe that's my eyes...
I pull into the nearest parking lot, and sit there, head against the wheel; it's hot inside the car, but I almost don't seem to notice, or maybe I'm punishing myself.
Suddenly, it's cool, and the frost flowers on the windowpanes stare back at me; it's January, and I keep thinking, what time is it?
I was never afraid to die before. I mean, you're gone to a better place. You're not allowed to cry or miss anyone in heaven, either that or you're not supposed to want to.....then, why would one not want to die?
When my eyelids popped open that blue morning, I knew why, and I knew so well it hurt; just the thought brought a tear to my eye. Listening to his soft, rhythmic breathing beside me I understood why I couldn't die, never die.
Because if I died, I'd never get to wake up next to him again, never get to touch his blue lips, warm and yielding; never get to breathe in the soft, semi-sweet scent of him. I trembled in fear of the painful emotion, and he wrapped one arm around me....
I'm back inside the hot car again, the smell of plastic and leather invading my senses. It's May, and I don't understand anything anymore.
TK.....I whisper, small and lost in the closed space, and the walls seem to eat it up leaving a dead silence.
My fingers tremble, nervous, and I still them. I don't want to smoke. I rarely ever smoke....TK hates it when I smoke....
My God, it hurts.
Hot tears stream down the leathery plastic of the wheel, friction between my cheek and the rough surface. I raise up my face, wipe my red eyes and look in the mirror.
Furiously wiping at the redness, I give up and lean back in my seat. The key jumps into the ignition, and then surely, I know where I have to go. I guess I ought to feel sad and tormented but I don't really....it's just an overwhelming sense of loss that strikes me. It's then I know why, and I know I have to tell him instantly because I couldn't take anymore.
So I put it in gear and squeal out of the parking lot, praying not to die before I reach his door.
The doorbell softly announces her arrival, and my mind wanders to that soft spot in the middle of the couch that she seemed to sink into when I crushed her. I know it's her before the chime is even done ringing. But I'm just tired, and I don't know what she wants anymore.
When I open the door, there she is, and she's crying, babbling, ..saying...something.....
"I'm sorry! It was my fault- ..best friend....I wasn't right....you know? I mean, ..when I stopped, it was then....everything's so messed up...." and she falls into me sort of, and I do the comforting bit.
Her tearsoaked eyes stare straight into mine, heavy and hypnotic and terribly sad, and her sensuous mouth opens and closes a little, trying to tell me something.
"I stopped being your best friend....." she says simply, and I nod because I don't know what she's talking about.
"Before, we loved each other. Afterwards, we just made love. There's a difference..." she continues softly, sniffling a little and breathing deep.
"The day that I forgot you were my best friend was the day when everything cracked apart. From the beginning was the downfall, from the night you pulled me next to you and we just slept like babies at my house. I'm sorry......." she tells me seriously, and seeks my gaze.
I've known this for a long time, and a warm feeling spreads through me softly, growing inside me, and suddenly I want to hug her.
"If you don't mind, I'd like to be best friends again," I tell her shyly, and she smiles a waterlogged smile.
We share a tight, innocent hug and then break apart. Suddenly, I know what I have to do.
"Gimme that," I tell her, reaching for her purse and snatching it.
"What are you doing?" she yells, trying to reach over me, but I can hold her back with only one hand.
"Something I should've done a long time ago, but I didn't because I worshipped you in your misery." I tell her, pulling out the cigarettes and holding them solemnly before her. "Friends don't let friend smoke." I say, and we both start laughing through the near-tears.
"Thanks," she sniffles, wiping her eyes on her sleeves as I toss the packet in the trash. "I promise to never do it again."
"Was I that miserable?" she asks, hiccupping.
"Oh, you have nooo idea," I tell her, and we both hug again.
Everything's gonna be alright, I keep thinking, and I know it is, because summer's here. It's Tuesday, again, but she's gone now. Back is the old Kari, the one that I ate popcorn on the couch with and I laughed with, the one that celebrated my victories and made me sandwiches for practice. It's time we let the January nights fade away into the past, and when I think about them that morning they seem as forgotten as Christmas ornaments packed away in June.
Because that's what it is, June first. And I'm writing this down so that I don't forget it this time. But in the back of my head, I know when the frost flowers rise again the autumn leaves smash against the sidewalks in their careless, windblown abandon that her mouth will rise to meet mine again, and what is now buried will awake. Old habits die hard, Kari, I think, and take the pack out of the trash. Lighting a cigarette, I lean back on the balcony and smoke until late evening. It's a warm summer night, and the streetlights burn warm through the thick, cobalt and purple air.
the world spins each day, closer to a new tomorrow; I was wrong to believe
that because you now stood at the center of my solar system
that it would stop spinning.
time keeps turning it's hands behind out back, and I woke up this morning
to find that no matter how hard we run back into the past,
we can't go to the beginning.
the day that I kissed you I believed that I'd never love anyone else
but when spring came and slapped winter hard,
it was then the ice started thinning.
did I ever love you? or did I dream it all on a night we fell asleep
in the cold frosty dawn I awoke and looked outside to find
that the stars had started dimming
it was a game between us, a race through a maze
we were both curious to find out , neither one
of us ended up winning.
so where are we now? lost somewhere in the universe, and the world still spins on.
I will love you again someday, because we're not done yet;
born yesterday, we've barely begun sinning.