Entry #97 - AH
Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest
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Title: Lost Without You
Picture Prompt Number: 37
Genre: AH, Hurt/Comfort
Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 1654
Summary (250 characters or less, including spaces and punctuation):
I looked for you everywhere, but you simply disappeared. I should've never met you. I should've never let you leave. You made me believe that our love was to be forever. And now I'm standing here in crowded Tokyo, feeling alone like never before.
Warnings and Disclaimer: none
I can't believe I forgot to buy a bottle of water again. I have been in Japan for three months, and here I am in the middle of the crowded fish market, feeling like a fish out of water.
It is hot. It is too damn hot; thank God I don't have to return to the office. If I touch the top of my head I can feel how warm my hair is from the sunshine. I reach for my shirt to pull it off my chest for the hundredth time, only to know I will feel the sticky cloth on my skin again the second I drop it from my fingers.
I know my hair is a mess; I can feel a drop of sweat running down from my hairline, no doubt making a visible line on my dust-covered face. I know that is why older men carry a towel with them, but with my upbringing, I can't imagine carrying a sweaty towel with me around town.
I watch two women at the adjacent fruit market. They are picking out vegetable for dinner. The only thing I know about the vegetable is the color – it is green. In fact, every inch of the stall is covered by something green. Some have short and rounded leaves, others long and thin, but all have the same green color.
They say green is good for your eyes and it calms your nerves. Not mine, I can tell you. My impatience grows every minute I watch the indecisive women. I don't understand what takes them so long to decide. Every bundle of those leaves looks exactly like the other. Green.
I look over the sea of black-haired heads and search for Jasper. Finding him at the exact spot I left him fifteen minutes ago, I sigh. He seems to have the same problem with making the right decision. I don't care if his situation is worse, because the fish don't actually look all the same. It is the smell that I don't like. I slowly take a deep breath. Yep, it is there, even though I am intentionally standing pretty far from the stall. I shift my weight and hear a weird squishing sound. Looking down, I realize I am standing in a pool of water that oozes out from those big blue round tubs that are full of water and fish.
I take a deep breath again, wishing I was somewhere else. Possibly Seattle. I wonder why fish at the Seattle market didn't have that unpleasant smell. It couldn't be because of Logan, could it? I shut my eyes tightly, trying to shake away the images that are threatening to push me over the edge. Every day, I move a bit further from the edge, although resisting the urge to give up and fall into the darkness of feeling nothing is as hard today as it was the day he left.
The sunshine is strong, even though the sun is behind the mist that lingers above the town from the wee hours of the morning till late night. It is said to be better around noon; I don't know it myself, as I never get to leave the office around noon. But now the traffic is heavy and the air smells funny. I know I will never forget that mixture of humidity, gasoline, the different smells of the little restaurants and food stalls. And fish.
I search the market for the women and find them at a stall that seems to sag under the weight of fruit. The little old lady that sells the fruit can be hardly seen behind the rows of apples, peaches and oranges. Each of them is carefully wrapped separately to prevent any damage. The stall even has a canvas canopy to protect the fruit from the sun. A part of it is bright red and the other part is yellow. I like the face of the old woman when she stands under the red patch much more.
I remember thinking that all Japanese people look exactly the same before I came to Japan. In fact, I thought all Asian people looked the same. I couldn't be more wrong. And their faces are not yellow either. I don't know where that cliché came from. They are not. At least when they are not standing under a yellow canopy.
I step out of the puddle, and catching Jasper's gaze, I gesture to him where I am about to go. I come closer to the stall, carefully, not wanting to knock anything down.
"Um, hachiya?" I ask hopefully. She eyes me quizzically and then says something in fast Japanese. I can only guess according to the intonation that she is asking me a question.
I gave up trying to learn Japanese the first week of our stay. There was an official interpreter at the office, and even though it was much more difficult to make myself understood outside the office, I simply gave up.
It was after I met Jasper that I learned more about how Japanese works. Jasper had already been living in Japan for six years, working as a journalist and language editor with the English version of the newspaper Asahi Shimbun. We met in a bar not far from our office, and after a month of going to bars and clubs, he invited me to move into his apartment. I knew he was interested in more than just playing chess, but I wasn't ready. I tried. Those several times we had sex felt more like a fight though. I just wasn't ready. To my surprise, Jasper didn't kick me out even after that, saying that he was sick of living alone for the past six years.
Jasper explained to me that the language differed drastically according to who speaks or to whom you speak, and given the amount of time I was scheduled to spend in the country, I gave up. I learned simple expressions like arigato (thank you), domo sumimasen (excuse me – which I used a lot in the always-crowded Tokyo streets). Jasper also taught me ikura desu ka, but when they actually told me how much I should pay, I didn't understand anyway.
Every time I used some of those words, people around me fell under the impression that I could actually speak Japanese, and I found myself drowning in a fast flow of Japanese words. So I always ended up with Nihongo o hanashimasen and gestures anyway.
I point at the rows of fruit and try again: "Hachiya?" I see a light of understanding in her eyes and watch her shake her head. I can't suppress a smile. She is so happy about the first success in our small talk that she seems to forget that I can't understand a word from her staccato.
I can only guess that she is explaining to me that it is too soon, that I will have to wait till autumn to try a fresh kaki. Jasper warned me when I first asked him about it, but I didn't want to give up so easily. He said when the air was cooler in autumn and the sky was bright blue, not hidden behind the mist, we could make a trip to find persimmon trees loaded down with fruit. Well, I won't be here in the autumn.
I walk back to Jasper, hoping I will find him with a fish so we can leave for our apartment. Air-con will feel good and a shower even better.
Maybe I could stay in Japan till autumn. There is nothing for me in Seattle anyway. Not without Logan by my side.
The wind's picked up and slight breeze carries a smell of cinnamon and sandal, mixing together with the smell of fresh fruit. I visited the small temple near the fruit market just once. When I walked around the temple and entered the garden behind it, I could feel his hand in mine, I could see us sitting on the stone bench near the water's edge. There was an old maple tree planted behind the bench and a young weeping cherry just at the water's edge, its branches almost touching the still water of the pond. I watched Logan leaning toward me, his lips slightly brushing along mine. I shut my eyes and returned the kiss with urgency and need, feeling protected from the curious stares just by Logan's presence.
Maybe I won't stay in Japan till autumn after all. If I just cross the ocean… I can be at Sea-Tac in just ten hours taking a nonstop flight. Ten hours and I would knock on his door and beg him to change his mind. To forgive me for my selfishness, my impatience and eagerness. Just ten hours. We could even go to the Seattle Japanese Garden. We would find our own bench near a pond, and I would find my own happiness in his arms.
It is after midnight in Seattle. I imagine Logan in his bed – in our bed – lying on his stomach, his legs tangled in a blanket. I reach for a strand of his black hair, tucking it behind his ear. I will definitely not spend the autumn in Japan.
I stand in the middle of an aisle, wrapped yet again in my personal comforting bubble. Maybe I will call him and he will agree to meet me at the airport. I can almost hear him saying: "Edward? Are you okay?"
"Yes, I am now."
"Let's go home," he says.
I smile and nod. "Yeah."
I turn around to look at Logan, eager to take his hand and let him take me home.
The eyes I look in aren't Logan's though.
They are round, yellow and dead.
I guess Jasper has finally bought our dinner. He lowers his hand with the yellow-eyed fish down and smiles at me. "Let's go home, Edward."