"….love…long time" he says, and they know this to be truth, sitting on a stone bench by the pond, by the green pond where fish (tangerine orange and autumn fire red) are swimming.
The fish look a little healthier this year; no glass eyes, no bloated bodies, no skin flaking off but we digress; ripples form on the surface of the glass-green water. In the distance (an ocean away) one can hear the thump of a bamboo pipe on stone, one of his time keepers (the image sold and sold over to audiences all around the world).
They sit in silence, admiring the lovely late spring afternoon. There are children around them, home from school, out with their parents (busy with work, in this economy there ought to be work and work and work). A colorful cap, blue and red. A boy holding pinwheels. Sandals for the coming summer; red plastic. The squeak squeak of the hapless babe whose mother has bought the special kind that alert pedestrians of children passing through – move. He won't get lost.
Whether or not Yao is proud of this creation he won't say. He'll never wear those sandals. No, not never and he's in the face of every boy and girl youth and elderly so he knows that "no" can change to "yes" at any moment.
It's been a very long time since their first meeting. An elderly couple in the park, by the pond. Their lips do not touch; a thin gap between one silhouette and the other. Dressed in traditional clothing (in this climate one would expect an objection, a rock thrown in the way of the foreign devil but perhaps the mortals about them see only musty sweaters and beanie caps and video game logo shirts), how anachronistic a sight. People from another time when life was hard and the food not as rich and the houses not as straight and the skylines not so high.
Gingerly, he places his hand on the others, watching a smile form. A faint smile; they are no longer young. No, the Dragon is still young, healthy for another millennium. Healthy for the rockets, for the moon domes, for the landing on the Red Star. The petrification of old age can be reversed, Kiku thinks; there is still time, still time. The young eagle thinks he can; Yes We Can. The Dragon replies, it is wise not to underestimate my little brother. I'm am not, Kiku replies, his hand still placed there (the other elderly couples slowly turn to a folk song cassette, Sony brand boombox). The swaying of yellow ribbon in the spring breeze. A rhythm on a handheld drum. Silver hair, spotted faces wrinkled like corn husks.
The story about the doctor who stayed behind. A real doctor, not like the ones who cut and…
Enough of that, enough of that; not the war again. It takes effort, for the memory is like a waterfall in a muddy river. He pushes until the waterfall becomes a thin trickle.
Nothing to disturb the tranquility of the emerald green pond (though they both know the little park is a game of life and death; insects feasting on each other, seedlings emerging and withering). A microcosm. It's too perfect, too…
A bamboo grove on the other side of the pond. The forest where they first met (or is it another legend, told and told again until everyone believes the symbolic gesture to be be truth?), centuries to grow but torn down in one night. They built an apartment complex over it, fenced it off. Now people sweat from their windows in the sweltering summer heat, dreaming of vacations in beautiful Guilin, typing on their monitors (some years behind cutting edge, Kiku thinks). Teenagers watching video sites to the break of dawn. No, studying. Studying a way out; see this angle here and this wire here and this spring.
Spring comes. Another bud on the branch of an ancient tree (always growing, always expanding, the tiniest fraction of a hair-width). Fresh green on the crack of bark. A bird alights on the bench, waiting for scraps. It flitters off into the near distance, seeking another mouthful.
Their hands unclasp. They lean into each other, the old couple in the park. They've seen this and that and have retired into a life of obscurity: morning walks, the smell of breakfast cooking in the early morning. A man wheeling an ice cream cart walks by, the children crowding about him. The sunlight glints off the scratched metal and the surface of the water. Yao raises his hand to shield himself from the bright flash.
"It's so peaceful," he remarks.
The other nods his head in agreement.