In this surreal world, everything is in monotone, like a white marble surface that stretches on for miles and miles. And in the midst of this bizarre landscape, there is a tree that is awkwardly placed in what seems like the center of the universe. Its branches cover the ceiling of the boxed-in world, and create shadows on white backgrounds. Somehow, this seems all too familiar to him, like pieces of a memory coming back to him in dislocated remnants.

He takes a step closer towards the unnerving sight, and is suddenly thrust back by what seemed like an invisible force, like an iron hand cutting clean through his chest. When he finally regains his composure, he reaches his hands before him and finds them resting upon an invisible surface that prevents him from walking any further. He feels the space around him. The same obstacle faced him.

And then it was like looking through a translucent glass. The tree blurs at the edges, and morphs to include a girl walking towards it. Her auburn hair swings at her shoulders, and although she is nothing more than a smudge on the white landscape, he knows who it is from the moment she appeared in his sheltered little world.

Akari.

His fingers curl up on the invisible barrier and forms fists. Tears gather at the corners at his eyes, and freeze there as if this cruel unseeing force was turning his anguish solid and tangible. He screams, he pounds on the glass, but she continues to walk closer and closer towards her destination, thinking that he is there, waiting for her.

Suddenly, someone turns the volume down, and his screams are muted, as if the creator of his sullen world couldn't stand the sound of his uncharacteristically high screaming. For seconds, he flails, screaming louder and louder, but nothing comes out of his mouth. He only hears her footsteps, echoing in the peripheral valley.

And then the footsteps stop. She had arrived at the magnificent tree that stands before her, and after a few seconds, she falls bent to the ground in a slump. Her auburn hair turns white, her body melts, and she fades into nonexistence.

Silence.

The invisible barrier tears down, and finally allows him freedom to walk dazed in an unsteady gait towards the tree that stands alone upon that godforsaken white world. He falls onto his knees before the tree's trunk that has already begun peeling at the edges. This world is now Akari-less, and it made it seem so much more like a wasteland.

And then he is spinning backwards; the tree is rapidly going back several seasons, a century of leaves shedding and blossoms blooming. He is standing at the surface of the perforated sphere, when he opens his eyes and finds a smooth cool hand resting upon his fevered cheek.

Takaki.

Her voice is like a broken record, playing in shuddering jolts.

Do

you

know

the

speed

He reaches out towards her, and only grasps air. He panics, and looks at her again. This time, he could see her form fading, but her smile is everlasting.

cherry

blossoms

fall

No. No. No. I do not know, I do not know how fast cherry blossoms fall - -

per

second.

-- because I don't know how fast I must fall to be able to reach you.