Farewell in the Moonlight
"He does nothing now but sleeping...Bedridden for ten years...I'm afraid...grandpa's time is coming..."
Are they talking about me?
"Shss...don't say things like that...he's such a sweet grandpa...I don't want that to happen..."
They are talking about me...
"No family...no children...I hate to see him alone like this..."
Ah right...I don't have anyone...I don't...
Two ladies in white gently closed the door. It was a door located at the farthest part of the long hallway. A home for the elderly with no family. A place where their needs were being cared for. But even if these people couldn't talk much anymore, for sure, like any body else, they wanted someone by their side.
Like him. Like many gay people who failed to search for the longed for lifetime partner. For sure, they wanted a ray of love...even for the last time.
"Ah...are you going to take me already?" He asked through ragged breathing. His thin chest heaving, his pale wrinkled skin lost the color of youth a long, long time ago. The only vibrant thing left was his eyes. Pretty Emerald eyes that even in death bed was hoping for a little attention he failed to acquire when he was young. If only he wasn't so stubborn and didn't try to hide who he really was, and the circumstances he was in, maybe he wouldn't be feeling so alone.
"Is it true...that gay people go to hell?" he raised his hand to the small ray of white he could only see. "Am I going to hell?"
His room's window was left a little open to let the breeze get in. Also to fend off the smell of death that everyone looking after Takahashi Misaki could feel.
"It's really my time? But I haven't..." he paused and closed his eyes. Accepting that it was really the end of his rough 87 years of living alone, his thin dry lips turned into a smile. "If you're going to take me already...can I ask for one last favor?"
The bright light that the old man could see dropped closer to him. Closer to his chest.
"Yeah...one last favor...if you may..."
This flickering white light faded, and a few seconds later exploded into a warm light, filling every nook and cranny of the room. And through almost blind eyes, Misaki saw a miracle.
He found himself standing in the middle of a sea of people. Different faces. Different clothes. And these sea of people were all going in all directions.
He found himself unable to think. He just listened to the loud noises from afar. Cars, trains, horns, murmurings and people talking in their phones. They all sounded so foreign, as if they were from a different world.
"Ah, I watched the movie with my boyfriend...it wasn't really good."
"Yes, boss I'm on my way there."
"My husband almost jumped out of the window when he heard I am pregnant!"
He didn't know if he could move. Or if this was just one of the dreams he always made up. So unsure of what to do, he took one frightful step. And he felt a really strong force hit his shoulder. He fell on the floor, still his mind was blank.
"Why are you spacing out there punk?" the voice of a heated office worker shouted at his face before turning away. "Kids these days seem like they're always on drugs."
He stood, surprised that he was able to do so without sweat. He started walking, choosing to stay at the side of the long subway. On the way, there was a vendo machine. A machine that looked so colorful and bright. It looked perfectly the same as the one in the magazines he saw. And then he halted.
The reflection he could see from the glass covering the drinks wasn't him. Or it was him. It was him 69 years ago.
Almost to tears, he raised his shaking fingers to his face. Ever so slightly he touched his cheeks. So firm and soft. He traced his eyes. He felt his soft hair fall down on his face. And his youthful entirety in a get-up he could only see young people wear.
"Excuse me but this isn't a mirror in the restroom," a voice of an irrate girl mumbled from behind his back and Misaki slowly walked away from the machine.
"This...this..." eyes onfocused, Misaki started running against the flow of people.
The subway and the entire surroundings felt different than it used to be when he was still a student. There was a war going on that time which made everyone move robotically and anxiously but everything he could see was how he pictured Tokyo would be in the future.
The now 18 year-old Misaki dashed out of the train station and running after his breath, whirled around the modern Tokyo.
"Amazing...I never knew everything...would be like this..." he breathed. "After so long..."
The boy started walking. Gawking at the establishments, gaping at the huge bookstores and drooling at the foodstands.
"Ah but the Tokyo Tower is still there...I'm glad..."
He closed his eyes. Feeling the rush of breeze ran to all the living and moving objects of the fastpaced Tokyo. And then his peace was broken.
"Ha? I went through the trouble of getting these tickets for us and you CAN'T come?!"
The boy turned around. Behind him was a taller male, probably a college student who was staring at the figure of a high Ferris wheel from a little afar with the most annoyed face.
"You nagged at me to pursue this ridiculous date in the a themed park, didn't you? Forget it! I'm going back!"
After a few more cursings, the guy looked at Misaki for a few seconds and tossed something in the garbage bin near them.
Misaki waited for him to turn around and walk away. And like a scanvenger, threw himself into the bin and took what the guy threw away.
"Eh...these seem like tickets...for a themed park?" the teen gazed up. The clear sky was bright and from afar he could again see the tall Ferris wheel moving in a slow motion. If he closed his ears to listen he was sure he'd hear screams from a haunted house or from the roller coasters. At least that was what he heard from the ladies tending to him in the home for the aged. His time didn't have these kinds of recreations.
"That's dirty you know?" a sudden voice cut through Misaki's thoughts. "People sometimes spit in there."
The boy whirled around. Misaki couldn't help but squint. The man's hair was too dazzling under the sun as if he was a god from a fairytale.
"I've been watching you for a while now...you seem too excited for everything...you're not from here are you?"
The flustered Misaki looked at the tickets and then back at the silverhaired man. He was about to place the tickets back into the bin but his face must have said "what a waste" for the newcomer chuckled suddenly.
"I'm a writer and this is actually my first time to go here to gather data for a novel I am writing," he said casually. Perhaps because the man was older he was a little forward and arrogant mixed together. But surprisingly, Misaki wasn't pissed. "Instead of those already dirty tickets...why not join me?"
"Eh?" Misaki was lost. Did the people in modern Tokyo just ask anyone out like that? He could remember two guys actually holding hands on his way to that open park. Has Tokyo became so liberated already from the times that passed?
"We will just try the rides, help me gather data and I'll treat you to a good place."
The boy looked at the tickets in his hands and up the sky for a while. Thinking that these were all just a dream he wanted very badly, he drew a deep breath.
"Are you a tourist here in Tokyo?" the man asked, looking at the map of the themed park then glanced at Misaki.
"Yeah...I am..." Misaki replied, smiling uncomfortably.
"I see..." the man suddenly patted Misaki on the shoulder.
The teen looked up, his green eyes reflecting the thin clouds above them. "Uhm...who are you?"
"Me?" the man asked, his lips curling into a slight smile. "Don't you think it's more exciting this way? It's not like we'll meet each other again anyway..."
There was a pang of something hurtful in Misaki's chest all of a sudden. But what the man said was real in every aspect. This dream most probably will never be repeated since he could feel it would be the last of him dreaming.
The man's lavender eyes narrowed at the brown head beside him. Perhaps feeling guilty of him being so tactless and inconsiderate. He then leaned closer, allowing Misaki to see the entirety of the man's face.
"Hmm..how about this? We tell each other's name at the end of the day?"
Misaki's face lit up and smiled just like that. A smile so disarming that the teen's companion almost lost his hold on the map.
"Let's get going," the older man mumbled, clearing his throat.
They started walking into the sea of people. There wasn't a stall the Misaki didn't gape at. Everything was so lively, so colorful and pretty that Misaki couldn't help himself but just gawk at them like a little innocent child.
Surprisingly, although the man who said he was a writer hated crowded places the most, watching the fresh, uncalculated happiness and expressions of his strange companion, he found himself also already enjoying the scene.
"Wah...Look...Look at that...the Ferris wheel is much bigger up close!" Misaki exclaimed, pointing at the circular ride.
The man smiled and looked at it himself. "It was named Diamond and Flower Ferris wheel because of its light shows...It's prettier in the evening. And it gives you a brilliant view of Tokyo at night."
"Uwah...that sounds exciting!"
" Let's try riding it the last. What do you say?"
Misaki looked at the Ferris wheel with his eyes glowing. "I am just leeching off from you...so...whatever you want to do..."
"Don't put it that way...I'm enjoying myself real plenty."
The two, undisturbed from the curious glances they were getting started getting on with the rides. Slow rides, mind blowing rides and rides that made one scream at the top of their lungs. They walked side by side, enjoying all the attractions and would make some silly bets in playing some sideway games.
"I wish...we had this back then..." Misaki mumbled as they were walking towards an icecream stand.
The man chuckled. "You talk like you came from the past...but that's interesting...could probably use it for a short story or something..."
Misaki watched the tall man in a suit buy for icecreams. In Misaki's mind, he was wondering why the man had to be in a suit when he was just going around a themed park. But more than that, he was actually pulled by the man's profile.
"He has a really prominent aura around him..." Misaki muttered as he waited from a bench a little far from the Ice Cream stand. "He must be rich..."
From afar, he noticed the man had a poker face the entire time he was at a line until he was talking to the man selling the delicious, cold stuff. But when the man looks at his direction as if checking if he was still there, he would give a faint smile. It made Misaki really happy.
"Ah...I wish this dream drags forever..."
But like any dreams, all good dreams felt going on so fast that before one knew it, the ending was already there.
"Finish your icecream fast...we could get a good view of the sunset from the Ferris wheel..."
Misaki looked at the melting icecream before him and then he looked at the man silently eating his own icecream.
"I am really happy today...but somehow...I feel so sad..."
"I kinda feel like I'd love to spend more time...but that's selfishness..."
The man narrowed his eyes at Misaki and looking conflicted, suddenly ruffled the boy's hair. "Don't sulk like that...we still have plenty of time..."
"No...I don't..." Misaki whispered but his companion didn't hear it anymore.
It was indeed a majestic view from the top. The distant establishments already lighting their shops. The buildings starting to shine like steady stars. And the setting sun, casting the last of its fiery orange and red tint glimmered a pretty yet somewhat gloomy shadow on Misaki's face. A sunset like his time will always be a saddening thing. It was saddening, but no one could deny the beauty of the sun that was saying goodbye for the day.
What was more entrancing was although Misaki knew that everything below was moving at a fast rate, on top of where they were, everything was just in slow motion. Like time itself slowed down.
After him staring at everything his eyes could take, Misaki finally noticed that the man sitting across him was just watching him in silence. It felt a little awkward for Misaki so he looked at the view behind the man.
"Uhm...did you get lots of idea for your novel?" Misaki asked, finally looking at the man in the eyes.
Resting his elbow on the little space on the side of the window, his hand supporting his head, he smiled at Misaki. His lavender orbs seemed to have blended with the purplish sky at his back.
"Lots of it. Thanks."
Misaki looked down at his feet, the far away ground looked so scary that he had to look up once more. "I did nothing..."
"You know why Ferris wheels are made despite it looking as a boring ride?" the man asked not letting go of Misaki's gaze. "It's like a representation of being with the one you like."
"Everything below is oblivious to the sudden calm and slow pace going on up here..." he continued. "It's a pretty and rewarding feeling to just look out silently and enjoy each other's presence."
Misaki stared at the man with his lips fixed in a painful smile. He stared hard at the pretty lavender eyes before him but as much as he tried to stop them, they blurred the man's face and the warm tears from his eyes fell, dropping on his closed fists on his lap.
"I've always dreamed of this..." Misaki muttered. "A day just playing and walking around with someone..." he started. "I dreamed of someone ruffling my hair gently...buying me icecream...and someone who'd look me in the eyes and tell me things I like to hear..."
"Hey...why are suddenly..."
"I'm so happy that it hurts..."
The man sighed and went over to where Misaki was sitting. Running his huge yet gentle hand up and down the teen's back, he smiled faintly.
"The reason I asked you to join me...wasn't really because of data gathering..."
"At first that was what my real intention in going here...but...Let's say...I'm interested. That's why I invited you?"
Misaki started chuckling inspite of crying at the same time. "You're interested in me?" Misaki laughed. "You know...my dreams sometimes seem so real the past ten years...I could almost believe it."
"Why do you always insist that this is just a dream?" the man asked quietly.
"Would you believe that I am an old man? This is my last day on Earth..." Misaki explained like telling a far away tale not his. "A day with someone who'd look at me, just only me for a day is my second best dream..."
The man smiled. "You sure spout many things that are unbelievable..."
They remained silent for a long while. The ride almost hitting its end and the sky completely enveloped in darkness. The glittering stars trying to show off despite the million light years distance away from Earth.
"Say that's your second best dream...what's the first?"
Misaki looked up at the man, embarrassed that he couldn't bring himself to kiss the silverhaired man despite it only being a dream.
"My first best dream...is to dance a slow dance with the one who I like...and likes me back..."
"My time...I was born during the beginnings of the Showa Period...the war in the succeeding years until my teens made everyone so stiff and strict. When there were gatherings...I could only watch my classmates dance with their partners. I couldn't ask another male to dance with me...even if I wanted someone to take the lead for me...the time I was born...it wasn't possible..."
Shaking his head, amused and somehow disturbed with the kid's out of this world rumblings, he decided to just plant a gentle kiss on the boy's head.
"If you were born at the start of the Showa Era and the year now is 2013, you'll be 87!" the man calculated without even the use of any device. "You know...forget that...you must have hit your head somewhere in the rides..."
Misaki sighed. It may sound like he was kidding but he wasn't. The man was right. He was an 87 year old man wishing to have a glimpse of the more open times his generation couldn't feel.
The man pushed Misaki's head away with his forefinger and looked deep into his emerald eyes deepened by the night. "I will dance with you no matter how many times you like..."
"Hehe...really?" Misaki asked, clutching the hem of the man's shirt. "That'd be nice..."
"I'm Usami Akihiko...remember that name okay?"
"I see...Misaki...I'd like us to know each other better..."
Misaki sobbed. "This dream...is really the best one I ever had. Because the man in it...has a name I can call."
"You're a weird one."
The Diamond and Flower Ferris wheel ride ended after 17 minutes and they both stepped out of it. They stayed a few more minutes watching the second batch of people wanting to get into it. Mostly were young people with their boy friends or girlfriends.
Usami looked around and then noticed the teen beside him looking at a store that sells stuffed toys. He really wanted to laugh at the boy's longing face but he stopped himself and instead poked the teen on the face with his finger.
"I have a surprise for you..."
"Yup. Close your eyes and count from 20 to 1. Okay?"
"Just do it, come on. Turn around and start counting when I say go."
The man started stepping backwards and then he flicked his finger accompanied by a lively 'Go'.
The silverhaired man went to the bear shop and started choosing one. All the while Misaki just counted there on his own.
"Give me the biggest one. That...one with a red ribbon."
"No need to wrap it..."
Usami glanced at the teen still standing at the side of the street counting.
The seller had a hard time looking for a change and Usami was getting impatient so he just grabbed the huge bear in one swift motion.
And then Usami turned to look at where the teen was waiting. But Misaki wasn't there.
He opened his eyes and what he saw was the crusting ceiling above his head.
"I knew it..." Misaki whispered under his heavy breathing.
He knew it was just a very beautiful dream. But having to wake up from it, the empty feeling inside was too much. Despite him being grateful to have such a very sweet dream for the last time, the crack inside his heart was knawing at him.
"I am an old man again..."
His warm tears fell from the corners of his eyes, wetting his white pillow. He didn't need a mirror to see. He could just feel from the heaviness all around him that he was back to the reality.
"Usami Akihiko..." Misaki muttered. "A princely name...thank you for such a wonderful dream..."
He slowly looked out the slightly open window. The moon was big and bright. And from it, he started imaging the young him and the man in his dreams dancing under it. Dancing into the slow hum of the man's voice. Dancing like it would never end.
Misaki exhaled tiredly. He could feel that that was it. The end was really there.
Eyes closed, his hearing was working sharply. He could hear unsteady sounds on the floorboards coming closer. Getting nearer. Fast and huge steps vibrated in his ears. And then it stopped at his door.
He opened his eyes a little. Even from that small task he felt so tired already.
The wooden door opened with a gentle creak.
"Hey sir, you can't do that!" a worried voice of a woman mumbled, afraid to make a commotion and wake up all the elderly in it.
The footsteps started once more and halted before his bed. His eyes maybe bad but he couldn't take his eyes off at the pair of sharp lavender eyes looking back at him.
"U-Usami?" he breathed but no word came out.
"God..." the tall man knelt before the bed and placed his hand on Misaki's forehead. With just one look, he knew it'd be the man's last night. "I don't believe this..."
The old man lying on the bed turned his head on the other direction despite it being too hard already.
"Don't look..." Misaki begged. "I look...I look so ugly..."
"You're an old man still spouting nonsense..." Usami grabbed one of the old man's wrinkled hands and brought it to his lips. "I knew I heard 'Takahashi Misaki' before...I donate in this institute yearly for a few elders...I didn't know...one of them is you..."
"The themed park isn't just a dream?" Misaki mouthed. Usami just reading the man's lips.
"How would I know you if that was just a dream...of course it's real!"
The room became filled with Misaki's soft, tired laughter. He didn't say anything and just cried there like a child.
Usami bit his bottom lip and brushed Misaki's thin hair off his eyes. "You have nothing to be ashamed off. Everyone gets old..."
"But I look so different..."
The man looked out the window and then leaned on the old man's ear. "Do you want to dance?" he asked softly, a tear falling from his eye to Misaki's hair.
"Come on...play with me. This is your first best dream right?"
Misaki's attendants stood by the door. They knew this time would be coming very soon. But what they were seeing was an unexpecting scene that they could only weep where they were.
Misaki smiled. "I'd love to."
Usami helped Misaki sit on the bed. His pink pyjamas almost too big for his very thin frame. He looked around the room. It seemed suddenly and strangely brighter than it used to be.
Usami extended his hand towards the man sitting on the bed. When Misaki took hold of it very slowly, Usami pulled him up gently.
Usami buried his face on the fragile figure's neck. Misaki was too weak to stand on his own that he just carried the man's weight, letting Misaki rest on his chest.
"See the moon is our grand ball right now..." Usami whispered.
"What song do you like?"
Misaki with the bit of strenght left in his body tried to circle his arms around Usami's back. "Ice Pond..."
"I know that...so leave the rest to me and we'll dance until you're so tired you'd have the best dance in your life."
"This is my first dance..."
"Your first and the best..." Usami urged, starting to move slowly.
Usami hummed the sad song into Misaki's ear. He circled the small area with Misaki's light weight pressed on his body. The window, embracing the moon's light into the room.
"Hmmm...hmmm...hmmm..." Usami continued as if he was singing a lullaby. "Hmmm...hmmm."
"Usami..." Misaki croaked. "Thank you for fulfilling all my wishes..."
The man was too afraid to hug Misaki feeling the frail figure would break, but he did so anyway.
"In just a short period of time...I'm smitten...so this is nothing..." Usami replied, lips trembling. "Everything seemed so unreal but that's not important anymore...I'm glad to meet you..."
"I wish I could stay like this forever...I wish...I was born a little later so I could grow old with you..."
Usami smiled, holding Misaki's back tightly.
"Usami...find someone you could grow old with..."
"That's for me to decide. For now...let's just enjoy this dance...okay?"
Usami continued walking around the room, humming the beautiful sad song that filled the night. His footsteps sent the floorboard creaking but there was something calming in it.
"Thank you." Misaki whispered.
Usami didn't stop dancing around the room with carrying Misaki despite the arms around his back slowly sliding down.
Usami didn't stop even though he heard Misaki exhaled contentedly without inhaling once more.
Usami finished the song, circling slowly around the room, hugging the lifeless form and saying his goodbye to a very special person.
"Rest well...Rest well my Misaki..."
The man buried his face on the thin frame's neck and smiled. His lips only visible, his cheeks glistening. "I probably would just wait, until I see you again..."
chapter end notes:
konnichiwa! thank you for the time reading and i hope you enjoyed this.^^
i shed...a few tears while writing this. the inspiration came when one time i remember i was waiting for the train. there was this old man standing quite far from me. i could tell his orientation just by looking (not because im judgemental but im sure you know what i mean^^)...there were only a few people that time so i looked at him alone standing before the yellow line waiting for the train like me. whether he has a partner or not, there's no way for me to tell. but that distant look he had on his face as he was looking at the other side had an impact on me. what if this old man wasn't able to find his partner? what if he's alone? what could he be thinking if he could go back in the past?...all those questions that led me to this one shot.^^
please tell me your thoughts and i appreciate all your continuous support!
*Daiya to hana no daikanransha or Diamond and Flower Ferris wheel is in Kasai, Rinkai Park in Edogawa, Tokyo Japan.
*Ice pond is an instrumental from Goong which i love sooooo much.
*Showa Period started in 1926 so just do the math for Misaki's age here...minus 2013...get's 87!