Disclaimer: All the creative rights belong to Mihona Fuji.

Author's Note: Do you remember your first love? Rekindle your first love with my new story – FIRST AND LAST. This story is inspired by Anita Shreve's novels. I'd be glad if you'll read this! Enjoy!


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FIRST AND LAST

by cold summer night

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TWENTIETH

The last time we met.

I told you I'll forget.

I was lying.

Deep inside, I was dying.

xx.

Just like the clattering of glasses for the toast in my engagement party, the wedding bells sounded the same. To my sense of hearing, it seems to be a warning sign instead of a celebrating resonance.

I watch you smile from afar. When he waves his hand on you, you abruptly walk to where we stand while scratching your head. I wonder what you are thinking. Congratulations, you extend your hand to him then look at me with a happy expression in your face. Why do you feel happy? I'll forget you, I say. You laugh. Is it funny for me to say that? Even if you laugh, there's a hint of pain affixed to it. I know. Will I forget you? You just know that, it may or may not be true but you should know that I'm lying.

Do you know that I want to despise you at this minute? Why didn't you stop me from being married to him? You told me you would. You promised you would. You said you'll be at my house the night before my wedding. I even waited for you at the eighth street. I even stopped there on the day of my wedding, just waiting for you. Why did you make me believe any of it? Did you expect me to runaway instead? I still don't get you. I think I will never get you.

I remember the night and day when we were young. You were still serious and cold, yet I feel that you begin to loosen up a bit. Do you remember when I snuck out of our vacation house to go by the beach? I was hoping you'll be there. I was praying to meet you - somehow. And I did. We met again. And again. But you run away.

I remember when you said that you'll wait for me while re-reading my letters. I came. Didn't I? We weren't young anymore. You were beautiful and warm. I told you I love you, you said you know that already. We were happy. I gave myself to you. Do you know that you will always be my first love? Do you know that you will always be my first?

I remember how you look. I remember your ocean scent. I remember how you breathe. I remember how you tasted. I remember how our surroundings looked. I remember the smell of the air, it was salty. I remember everything. Will you remember them as well? Or will you just throw them away?

I watch you turn your back on us, waving your hand. Is this a good bye? Are you really leaving? Is this the last time? I need to know. I might never see you again. I call your name. Rei. You didn't look back. I follow you. You stop walking. Just this once, can you tell me? Just so I could let you go. Just so I could give myself the freedom to forget you. Why didn't you come? I don't like you, you say. That's it?


NINETEENTH

You said it as if it's not complicated at all.

As if it's usual and acceptable.

What are you here for anyway?

Did you know that I'll be here in our bay?

xix.

I'll be here until the sixth day. It's the last thing I want to be in before I get married. I will relish what we had in the past. I may not be able to leave it here, but what can I do? What can a person in love do?

How many times did we run? How many times did we walk? How many times did we stare at the sky? A hundred times? I don't know exactly. I want to be young again, to be able to see us carefree. Do you remember that day or that night? What about the day after? The exact moment you run away?

A voice call my name. I know the owner of that voice. It is you. Who else can it be? Only you have that kind of voice. Only your voice can affect me this way. I don't want to look back, to meet your gaze. I'm scared that I might break then embrace you so bad. Tell me that I'm not dreaming. I'll control myself not to look back and let you know what I think and feel at this moment.

You call my name twice. I summon my courage before facing you. Are you telling me that you want me back? Are you telling me that we should be together? Are you telling me to run away with you? I'm getting married! It's not complicated at all, you say. How can you say that? You are here in front of me. Do you know that this is wrong? This is cheating! And you even want to elope with me as if it's usual and acceptable. It's not. Speak, why are you here? Really? Tell me the reason. What do you want from me? What are you here for anyway? Did you know that I'll be here in our bay? Well, you are right.

At this beach, we'll share what others may not have thought of. And it'll be a secret between you and me – and the beach itself. How can you say these things to me now? It's too late. Or is it? I shake my head, dragging my feet. From afar, you say that you have my letters with you and that you'll be re-reading them while waiting for me.


EIGHTEENTH

Whatever happened it happened, right?

I can only rethink what I caught sight.

Just with all my might.

You know, I even recalled it that night.

xviii.

At this beach, I remember my husband-to-be's mother waved a hand at me then pushed him to go in the cottage. After that, Kazuki and I walked by the sand and I met you – again. I can see clearly now what happened then, when you hit the ball on my chest accidentally. Or was it intentional?

He blamed you for not being careful, he was mad at you. I on the other hand couldn't say a thing. Not even a word. Am I mute?

In the afternoon, when his mother called him out I found you looking for something by the beach. Are you looking for something? I asked. You didn't answer. You continued with your search. I followed you at the end of the beach, up to the rocks. Only then did you ask me to stop with an annoyed look on your face. I laughed. You gave me death glares. I wonder why you were always serious and cold. Will you always be like that? As in forever? Who could ever melt the ice in your heart?

Even if you stopped me from following you, I remained by your side. Just looking for something, even if I didn't know what you were looking for. Something sparkled beneath the water; I walked my way to it. I reached my hand, as I neared my finger to touch it – it sliced my finger. It was painful that I jumped out of the surface to the sand. I uttered a soft cry. When I look at it, blood was flowing out. What could it be? What creature would do such a thing? You were already beside me. I sensed you grabbing my hand up then make it bleed even more. What? What are you doing? I questioned inwardly. I can't utter a word out, scared that you would be mad at me. In a swift motion, you bent your head to suck it. I thought my face became pale. All my colors faded, I felt so shocked. I can't think of the pain but the embarrassment. Your hands were warm and wet because you were searching through the water for something you never said. You weren't serious. Your expression told me that you were concerned. For the first time, I caught sight of a different you. I wished I brought my camera to capture it so that it could stay with me forever. That night I thought of you and everything that happened that day, I didn't sleep. Instead I went back to our place by the beach.


SEVENTEENTH

I must marry.

Even so, my feelings for you - I will always carry.

Seven days, it would come by fast.

My feelings for you, I know it'll last.

xvii.

It's not a must, but I see that it is. To marry someone would mean that I'll focus my eye on one person. I'll be a wife soon, then a mother as if it's a cycle for every woman. I pray to be the greatest or maybe the perfect wife. But how can I when I love someone else? It's unfair, don't you think? To be marrying with my reasons? Even if I get to marry, I will always love you. My feelings for you will always be with me. In a week, I'll become a wife. You became a husband to someone anyway, so it's a truce. One thing is not fair though; my feelings for you will last forever. What about you? Will it last our entire lives?


SIXTEENTH

I love you, I still do.

I never stopped and as we correspond, it burns ado.

One thing led to another, there's guilt.

We can't forever quilt.

xvi.

Why am I writing back? This has to stop. Even if I know what's right from wrong, I can't seem to follow it. In love, I think one may break a rule. I love you. I still do love you. I believe that I never stopped loving you anyway. As we write to each other, I feel that my love for you burns. It continues to grow. It continues to heat up like a wildfire. How I need you. I feel guilty about this. Of writing to you when I know that you're married, when I know that I'm engaged to be married. It's cheating. As we write, I know that I'm sinning. How can I redeem myself? I'm so buried now. Buried from you. I love you so much, but how can we keep this? We can't cover this up forever. Or can we? You write to me as if we are lovers, when we weren't anymore. I write back as if you are mine, when you are not. This can't be. We can't do this. Though I have the right, I think. You are my first love. She was my best friend, but she is with you. You two ended up together, she replaced me when she could pick up anyone. She took you away from me even if she knows that I love you. Even so, this is wrong. I'll write my last letter. I'll be gone as my wedding nears. I'll try.


FIFTEENTH

My surname will be stripped off for sure.

What's with the letter you sent, do you want to lure?

If only you have given yours to me, I could've been your wife.

You're tempting, but I don't want to cause strife.

xv.

I'm getting married, but why am I sad? In a few months, my last name would be changed. I wonder if he would allow me to use my surname, but it would be disrespectful. Don't you think? Even if it's possible?

As I look over the window, I find the mailman settling in envelopes. It could be bills, if not invitations. I hesitate to walk outside and get it. The envelopes could wait till tonight, right? I turn my heels, deciding to walk upstairs, but then I sigh. There's something holding me back. Something's telling me that I should get the envelopes now. My cat even bats its eyelashes, telling me to go outside. Fine. I get it.

I take all the envelopes. Water bill. Electricity bill. Landline bill. Credit cards. Letter from you. And a subscription letter. Now what? I place them at the table before sitting at the couch. Wait. A letter from you? Seriously? Did I get it wrong? Did it come from you or a person with a same name as you? Oh, please. You're the only Rei Otohata I know!

The letter sender. It is you. You wrote to me, for what? What came to your head? I wish there's a way that I could be yours. I never wanted any surname but this, I read your surname loud. Your surname next to my first name sounds so beautiful to my ears. It is a melody. I could've been your wife if you didn't break up with me. If only you didn't. It's a formal letter from you. I read it with my eyes. The invitation is tempting, I maybe thinking in advance but anything can happen. I can't cause any trouble. Or can I?


FOURTEENTH

You came.

You're lame.

I don't need you to be here.

I don't want you near.

xiv.

I remind him to have a small gathering, something that would make it sacred and private. Obviously this is not the one I like, I don't want this engagement party to be filled with so many people. As if it's a ball. As if there's a senate candidate here. I want the engagement to be between his and my family only. Well, I can't have that – can I? Not now. I shake my head.

Our parents toast. You all did. I raise my glass last, then sip my drink. I know someone is staring at me from a distance. How can you do that? I feel so bare. I feel so conscious. You are the last person I want to see. How can you be here? We're in the same circle of friends, alright. Even so. You are lame. Or am I trying to convince that you are, when you are not? You look amazing. Just amazing. I peer through my glass. There's a craving inside me, to look at your way. I know that my heart wants to meet your eyes. It wants to ask how you are, if you are happy. I shift my gaze from my glass to you, you are darting your eyes on me. Or am I imagining it? A smile escape from your lips, I raise a brow, unwelcoming it. I see that you straighten your stand, fix your tie then walk. Are you walking toward me or what? I blink my eyes thrice, look around, hoping to find someone whom I can talk to. I didn't expect this. I never wanted you here. Please, don't come near me. I can't imagine what I will do.


THIRTEENTH

Stressed-out from work, I was sick.

I thought my sight played a trick.

You're the one who could give cure, like a medicine.

But knowing why you were there, I'm sicker than I've ever been.

xiii.

A best friend of mine has warned me about working too much, I'm at fault here. I'm totally sick that I have to go to the hospital without her knowing it, for I don't want to be blamed. I don't need and want her favorite nag on me. I'll go alone, all by myself. I'll be fine, I think.

An ambulance pass over me, hurling its siren. I stop, watching the scene in front of me. Once the vehicle is opened, I see a lady lying lifeless. On her side is man, holding her hand with an expression on his face I know. Sadness. Anxiousness. What else? I try to read his face. It is Prayerful. Certainly. My mother would always be like that when I'm sick so I would know. What happened? When my head aches, I close my eyes. I only open them when I don't hear the loud sound anymore. They push the lady inside the hospital. She is still on the bed unconscious. I hear the man call her name, or so I think that's her name because he is looking at her. As if telling her to wake up and be well. I think he loves her. People walk in and out of the hospital. A boy, about three years old, walk in the hospital. Her mother is holding his little hand, assuring him that everything will be all right. I heave a sigh as I step. At the lobby, although everyone seems to be busy, I observe that the hospital is organized. I move my eyes around, looking for something I'm not sure of. There's a long hallway, a white one. Do you know what people imagine when God is taking them? It's like that. I take a closer look, a door opens, swallowing a tall figure. An angel-like form. Would it take me to heaven?

Wait. It's not angel. It's a human. Slowly, I focus my eyes on the figure walking towards me. I try to adjust my vision even if my head still hurts and there's a chance for me to collapse. Am I dying that I think it's you? I blink my eyes then look down at my feet. I look up, it is really you! My eyes aren't playing tricks on me! I touch my chest where my heart beats. I think I'm going to faint, I need something to lean on. I choose to give my weight on a wall, near the bulletin board for health info. My heart bangs. It is painful. I don't know what to do. The world suddenly stops when you call my name as if we were together this morning. As if, as if what? It sounds so joyful, not the kind of tone you would use on me when we were together still. I feel fine, just by hearing your voice. It's like a drug to me. Could you just say my name from now onwards? No, you can't.

The reason why I'm here? I'm sick, I say. Speaking of which, why are you here? It struck me. Your reason is not surprising. It is torturing me. So, you love each other that is why? Why would a couple be together? It's because they love each other. Why would a couple marry? It's because they love each other. Why else would a married couple have a baby? Again, it's because they really love each other. So much. Didn't you ever think of me, even for a second? I want to ask you. I smile at you, patting your shoulder. The shoulder I used to lean on. I notice your shirt is wrinkled. Didn't she know how to iron clothes? Didn't she know how to take care of you? I look up. Your hair, eyes, nose, cheeks, lips – they're still the same. I wish I could tell you what's inside my head. I don't want to congratulate you. I don't want to lie. I can't lie about this. Next year, you would have a family of your own. It's just so sad that you didn't choose to build it with me. All turn to black. Am I dead?


TWELFTH

I think of you when it's raining.

You by my side, I keep on pretending.

I think of you when it's cold.

Wrapped inside your embrace, I'm bold.

xii.

It is raining. As usual, I am always ready. With my umbrella and coat on, I'm up to walk my way to the train station. It is cold. I see my breath whenever I would breathe out. At these times, when the heavens pour out water, I imagine and act as if you are with me – embracing me to keep me warm. I'm so daring to just be with you, no matter what.

In my apartment, I gaze out the window. Where could you be? Are you happy with her? I know the answer. Is my best friend happy with you? I doubt it.


ELEVENTH

I wanted to hold your hand.

To get rid of your band.

I wanted to kiss you.

I wish you would bring back my hue.

xii.

For two long years since we broke up, I never hear from you. Today, when I check my mailbox, I find a letter. Your letter. Inviting me to your wedding? In this instant, I want to call the contact number. I want to ask about you. I want to hear your voice, just once. I scan the names for the entourage. My name is written, how could you?

June. I close my eyes, for I know that the day is closing. My heart leaps, not out of excitement but out of exasperation. So it comes, I pray that the day will be pin out of the calendar, but it didn't. It is still there.

I know I shouldn't be here, but I need to. As I walk down the aisle, I convince myself that I'm your bride even though I'm not. Do you know how it feels? I want to die, the moment the officiant pronounces the marriage between you and her. I want to grab your hand, remove your band from your finger, snatch you out, and kiss you. You're the only one who could bring back the color to my life. So, now I expect it would always be black and white. Or maybe just pitch black - darkness. White wouldn't be there.


TENTH

Two years, you gave.

Lifetime I crave.

Or else, I'll be in grave.

Please, only you could save.

x.

Where are the happy moments: the times we hang out almost every day, walk in the park, read books at the library, watch the sunset, gaze at the stars, and relive memories? Where are they? It has only been two years, I believe we're happy. Or am I the only one happy in this relationship? Were you lying all this time? Were you convincing yourself that we're made for each other?

Now, you're telling me that you want to break up with me? With no reason? That's not acceptable. I can't take that. We were happy. I am happy. How can you ruin our moment? Two more years and we could be married, why?

You say you have given me two years. What is this? Are you kidding me? Is there a span in love? Two years is not enough, it can never be. I need you my entire lifetime. I'll be dead. I know for I can't live without you. Would you want to see me in grave? Or would you ever grieve? Save me. Please, I beg of you. Save me by staying.


NINTH

I'm almost dying.

Who's trying?

I believe it was I, who wanted us back.

I wish to be strong, to have the knack.

ix.

Tears roll out from my eyes, I can't control them. I need you more than ever. I realize that it's okay even if you don't love me or even if you don't feel the same way. I just want you by my side. I won't ask of it ever. I would forget and be the one you wanted. I'm dying inside. Could you at least call?

I call your number. I think I could talk to you, but I can't. I let her talk to you instead. I let the one whom you love talk to you. Knowing that you don't hate me is enough – for now. All I want is for us to be good, to be the way we used to be. We may not be like a couple, but we're okay with that. Or you're okay with that, I'm slightly okay. It's better than to have no relationship anyway. I know it's only I, who wanted us back. I wish I could be strong like her. I look at her face. She is pouting her lips as if annoyed then nods her head and sigh. I wish I have her abilities, the Super Gal's abilities. I wish I'm Ran Kotubuki herself.


EIGHTH

We live a life apart, for a moment I find security and comfort.

I tried to forget you through another man's consort.

Since you're the only one I want, I failed.

No one can replace you, I'm not bailed.

viii.

Not a call nor a message. We live separate lives. You don't want to see me nor talk with me. Can't you see I'm dying now? You say you want to see it for yourself if I'm crying every night, how brutal of you. How could you say that? How could you say that I'm happy? How could you say things that will make me go insane and die? I love you. How can you not love me back? How can you not think of me nor remember me – us?

I need someone to tell me I'm beautiful. I need someone to give me security and comfort. I need to forget you, so I'll try. I find him standing where you left. Is he the one who will replace you? Could he make me forget about you? You're the only one for me, I know I'll fail. I will. You're irreplaceable. I'm still a prisoner of you. I cannot be bailed out even by the one who loves me.


SEVENTH

The obvious, I can see.

But what about me?

Don't you care, not to deny a thing?

I'll break, you knew – still you don't cling.

vii.

I put my heart on creating the chocolate for you, since we're together – you'll accept it, won't you? You accept it. I'm happy with that. I really am. I spent hours for it. I cut myself, burnt a finger, and sweat a lot that I feel I'm dehydrated just to make an acceptable one. In the end, it is not that good but I can see that you appreciate it. I know you feel that I'm expecting something for White Day. What you're sensing is right, but I won't speak of it. Never. I watch her move closer to you, handing out a box of chocolates. You didn't accept it, saying you won't accept something out of nothing, no feelings attached.

I walk after you. I need to be sure. I need to know why. I need to know if what my heart's telling me is right. I can see the obvious, that you feel something for her since day one, but I ignored it. I don't accept it. Your back is on me, I call you out. A bit weak, I call your name twice after. You stop, not looking back – not facing me. I step my way in front of you, staring into your eyes with doubts and jealousy. I ask you about it, about my thoughts. You are mad, I can sense it. I think the things around me become dead, or is it just me? When you say it, I look at your lips. So, you really have feelings for her? I ask myself, repeating the question only to realize that you are gone - leaving me again. You didn't deny. I wish you did. I wish you lied. Even if I'll die, why didn't you deny? Why didn't you embrace me? Why didn't you hold my hand?

I remember that night, that day.


SIXTH

Unbelievable how we've been together.

Like we were meant for each other.

It just happened like it would be forever.

As if we won't be separated ever.

vi.

I open the door. You are alone, I realize. I want to step back, retreating from you. Why should I? I'm already here. I need to be here. Just to be with you, nothing else. I just want things to be okay between us. I maybe wanting for us to be together, but if it's not meant to be – it's okay for now. I won't wish for anything else, other than us being friends if that's what you want. I'll convince myself that we'll stay as civil or maybe just good friends. What do you think?

I'll bore myself out, you say. No, if I'm with you I would never be bored. How can I? You're entertaining. I mean. I don't know. The song is inspiring. It's beautiful that it affects me to say what's inside.

When you embrace me, the world stops. Then everything comes back to my mind, I remember that day and night on the beach. I hope you remember that as well. But it doesn't matter for as long as you keep me under this warm embrace all my life. I love you. I love you endlessly. I feel burned when you move your hands down my back, they were so warm and strong. I want to sleep, stay like this until my last breath. Are we now together? My hot tears rolled, wishing that we won't be separated with each other.


FIFTH

I confess my feelings, gathering the courage if there is.

You rejected me; I feel my heart was in abyss.

You didn't like it when you knew that you're my first love.

I wish I could escape this embarrassment and fly above.

v.

You remember when we would always be at the beach? The last time we were there? We got all day for ourselves, didn't we? At the latter part, you ran away. What if you didn't run away? What could've happened? Do you ever think what? I think we could be lovers, just maybe.

I look at the beach through the glass, waiting for the perfect timing as we speak. I confess my feelings. You are serious, more than serious. And it is too late for me to take them back. With that look, are you rejecting me? How can you when I feel so much for you? When I care so much about you? You stand up, telling me that you can't take my feelings. You can't even return them nor accept them – seriously. The most painful part is when you say that I could be yours when you want to, but you can't. You are so confident. You are so sure. You just can't. First love is a burden for you. Burden? How so? Tell me? I watch you walk away, leaving me alone. I wipe the tears on my cheeks. This is so bad. I feel so small and ugly. I feel so worthless. I feel like breaking into pieces. I wish I could escape where I am. I look outside. I watch the sunset, the clouds, and the sea. Is this how it should be? Do I have no one, but the nature? I hope I have the power to fly, just so I could fly my way out, perhaps soar up in the sky – above everything. And above you.


FOURTH

You didn't recognize me anymore.

It's painful beyond core.

But as long as I can, it's fine.

How can I not when I know you so well? Like my own vine.

iv.

It's you. I recognize you. Your hair, your face, your scent – all of you. I know you don't recognize me. Really? Did I change drastically? You don't even move nor think when you hear my name. It sounds nothing to you, does it? It doesn't matter now, for as long as I can recognize you. Of course, I know you so well. How can I not? When I think of you every day and night – every time I would water my vines. You're my everything. I can feel it. Right here, at the center of my heart – at it's very core.

I remember when I held your hand, but I also remember when you took it away.


THIRD

Where are you now? Tell me. Is this love? Why did you run away?

What did I do? What did I say?

Will I ever really see you? When?

If so, I can't wait to see you again.

iii.

I just turned sixteen. I feel like I'm beginning to become a lady, I'm halfway through it – I guess. Although my mother would always tell me that I look like a grown-up, I believe that I am not. I feel like I'm a child still. Last four summers, I thought of seeing you again, but I didn't. You weren't there anymore. But why? Where are you now?

It's the first day of class. I'm a freshman now, but what difference will it make? Am I to think like an adult now or what? I don't know. All I know is that, I'm still trapped somewhere in my childhood. I remember the last time I saw you by the beach, when you ran away. Why should I think of you? Tell me? Is this love? No, it can't be.

In order to understand my age, I experiment on some things like dating. Is dating bad? I mean, this one involves money. Okay. It's bad. This should stop, but how can it stop when I'm being happy with the money I get? Well, I am on this thing because of many reasons even I couldn't understand. Maybe I'm sad because I haven't seen you ever since you ran away. Why did you run away? I can't remember why. Was it because of something I did? Or was it because of something I said? In my dreams, you say that I will see you. When? I can't wait to see you again. When will I see you again?

Do you remember when you kissed me by the rocks?


SECOND

You made me cry, and yet I never stopped thinking of it.

I never stopped wondering of you – even a bit.

My heart leaped, for the first time.

You were sublime.

ii.

The following summer, I never thought of seeing you. I mean, I did. I wish to see you again since the day you made me cry. I don't understand why I always think of you. I just do.

Our vacation house is far, so it would be tiresome if each swim I would walk my way there. For me not to cry again, my mother bought me a small cottage where I could rest after the swimming.

I brought a book with me, something that I could read on while taking a rest. Mrs Katase, my mother's friend calls my name, waving her hand from afar as she alights the car. Her mouth is open as if telling something, but I just couldn't read her lips. What? I arch my brows together, realizing that her only son is with her. I notice she pushes him to go in the cottage. Scratching his head, he walks near.

I smile at him, when he asks for permission to enter the cottage. Of course, I answer. We walk out after having some snacks, leaving footprints in the sand. Unlike last year, the beach is quiet. Perhaps, other vacationers found a better place or maybe this beach is no longer public. Either way, I can only wonder. I only realize that the book I was reading before he came is still with me when a ball hit my chest that it drops from my grasp. I touch the part which was hit. It is painful, as if a man punched me. I close my eyes, fighting with it. Kazuki asks if I am okay, I nod my head. When I look up, he is already a few steps away searching for the one who caused it.

My heart pounds for the first time. Is it because of the ball which hit me? Or is it because of the one who has caused it? It is you. I can never be wrong. We met again. When your eyes look at me, I pretend to be looking at the other way. I cannot face you, can I? I feel my cheeks burn, while my heart beats and my hands chill. It's summer how can the air give a cold one? Your presence has affected the weather – impossible! You are still looking at me when I look back. Despite the summer's scorching heat, I wonder why your chocolate brown hair looks so soft and shiny. Are you a shampoo commercial model? And your eyes, there is something about them. I think they're like the sea when there's a storm brewing, very dark and deep – crashing. I stop breathing.

I remember you looked at me, our eyes met.


FIRST

The first time we met.

I was upset.

I don't like you, you started.

To cry, that was what I wanted.

i.

Summer has come. My mother drops me to the beach. It isn't a private beach for I can see families gathered by the shore, playing with their kids if not eating their snacks. It's a happy scenario. I mean for them to be complete as a family. I guess two to three families are there. I smile back at my mother when she asks me if I want to take a swim. I surely do! Without answering, I swiftly run all the while removing my white slippers, straw hat, and white dress, revealing a conservative swimsuit under. Is there such a thing as a conservative swimsuit anyway? I place my things above a chair I encounter on the way. My sight is lock on the water; it looks so refreshing at this season. When I take a dip, I giggle and breathe out because the water is cold despite the sun's heat. I let myself be submerged in a different world – my world where only I exist. I let myself enjoy the present and my youth. I don't care about what's around me, this is about me and the water. Nothing else. I whirl, swim around, and dive. I build sand castles then run on the rocks at the end of the beach. I feel so free.

I only emerge from the water when my mother calls out for lunch. I will get back right after. When I do, I find a lad holding my things with his hands which make me flush a color of cherries. His eyes are examining them, as if looking for something in there. What could he be looking for? I struggle to call his attention for he appears to be an unapproachable lad. Are these yours? He questions on me, his eyes were darting mine. How scary. I open my mouth, only to close it. I open it again, then close it the second time. How can I not say even a word? I seem to be speechless in his presence. I believe he would hand them over to me, but he doesn't. Instead, he throws them away then sits on the chair. The chair belongs to him, that's why. He looks at me in a cold way before closing his eyes. With an irritated voice he confesses that he doesn't like me. Doesn't like me? I blink my eyes thrice. That is so harsh, for him to say like that. I step away, reaching for my things. I feel so sad. For the first time on my life, I want to cry so hard.

LAST

I'm the one that is lost.

With me is a ghost.

Could I ever be saved?

Or just be paved?

xxi.

I thought my skin by now would be the color of a creamed chocolate, if not pinkish, but no. I disagree with myself. I still look pale. I always look pale as if I belong to a vampire clan. The sun didn't affect me in any way, aside from blurring my eyesight and giving me headaches. None. Still, I dare not to make any movement. I think that by not moving, I could conserve my energy and collect my broken self – mentally and emotionally. I have to shut my eyes for a moment, opening them from time to time in order to adjust from the sun's brightness and scorching light.

I lay cold by the warm white sand, watching the moving clouds up in the sky and the flock of birds flying from west to east as if searching for a lost member. Could it be me? The one that is lost? I'm the one that is lost. I know. Back when I was younger, I always wave my hand up for I thought that God was riding on the clouds. I thought then that he leaves from continent to continent, but no, I inhale the fresh salty air, God isn't just in one place for He is omnipresent.

Barely breathing, I feel a slight tingle on my skin but even so I don't want to go anywhere. It's not that I feel lazy about standing up and walking, I've been running all my life so those two things would be easy. It's just that I don't know where to go. I can't decide where to go. I roll over, grasping for air, reaching my hand out to fill it with grains of pristine white sand.

A squall passes where I am. I watch the grains of sand move from hand, flying away from my grip little by little. I close my hand in a fist, hoping that there would be a grain left. I feel the same wind slide my hair's tie, as if it has its own life, flying with the wind. I wish I could go with wind, be gone with it. Or maybe, I want to be the wind so that I could be felt even if not seen. It's better that way than to be seen and not be felt. One of life's ironies, don't you think?

I open my hand when I feel that the gust stops, revealing some left for me. I force a smile as I reach out both of my hands now, taking as much as I can. I hope love has the good side of this sand. Easy. Pristine. And warm. But it isn't, for in truth, it has the down side of sand. Dark. Rough. Sometimes warm, sometimes cold. And worst, it buries like mud or crypt. Knowing all these now, I wish I never knew love. I wish I never learn to love. I wish I never loved anyone. Why? Because in love, there is nothing I would not do. The ghost of the past will always be with me. Am I still saved? Or will be covered with this sand and just be paved?

Someone hands me an envelope. The color, texture, and scent seem familiar to me. Of course, it is! Why? After reading the letter, I find you standing near the rocks where you first kissed me.

Rei. I call your name as if we belong to each other. As if we didn't leave anyone behind. I love you too, I say. Why do you always write that? I ask.

I look up, but you weren't there anymore. I hear a voice calling my name, but it isn't you. Kazuki, I say his name in question. He tells me that I've been dreaming. Have I been dreaming all this time? I blink my eyes. Did I imagine you there? The wind blows, I hold on to my dress. Tell me. Everything is real. As I walk, I step in to a thing. What could it be? An envelope. I look around before picking it up. As I read the letter, tears run off. I do too.

My Rei,

Yes, I do remember that. I remember when you said that you don't like me. I remember when you looked at me. I remember when he went home. I remember when I followed you. I remember when I walked out of the house. I remember the night when I found you by the beach. I remember when we listened to our breathing for an hour. I remember when you took my hand. I remember when you whispered something. I remember when you stared in the night sky. I remember when we met in the mid-night summer then dawn. I remember when we ran and lay by the sand. I remember when we jumped high. I remember when you pushed me to the freezing water. I remember when we rode the boat, when we sailed? I remember when you kissed me by the rocks. I remember when I held your hand. I remember when you ran away. I remember everything. I remember when we exchanged letters. I remember when you wrote that you want to be with me.

I can't wait to meet you every summer. One can choose who to place at last, but one can never replace the first. I choose you to be my last, but will you do the same for me? You will always be my first and last love, I promise you that.

Forever Yours,

Aya

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End of

FIRST AND LAST

by cold summer night

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Author's Note: Thank you so much for reading. I would appreciate it if you will leave a review. Head right on, please? Till then!