Graduation Day! Graduation Day!! I can't believe
it's finally here! High school's been through with pot, drugs,
booze, I want to say 30 babies born, and lots of sex in the
bathrooms. I'm one of the only ones who are still a virgin and
sober. I think the only ones that are like this are me, Kera,
Desmond, and Akira. Us four, we've been friends since
kindergarten. Akira and I go back even further; we've known each
other since day care when we were two. Now, practically 20 years
later, we're together as boyfriend and girlfriend. Kera and
Desmond are together too, which is super convenient for double
Akira and I have been together for about two
years. We love each other more than oxygen. I'm still getting
used to the fact that after high school, he's going back to his
homeland, Japan, to study there. I can't go with him, since I'm
staying here in the States to study at Yale. The thought of
having him halfway across the globe bothers my mind. But, still.
He wants to go home, and who could blame him? At lease we can
keep in touch through e-mail. And perhaps there will be some
other way to keep in touch besides that, like a networking site
or something weird like that.
Akira goes up to receive his diploma. His long,
black hair covers his neck, and when he turns, I can see his
deep, almond back eyes and flawless face looking towards me. He
blows me a kiss, and I pretend to catch it and hold my hand to my
heart. My name is next, and as we walk past each other, we
whisper "I love you" into each other ear. I receive my diploma,
do the traditional "throw your hats in the air" thing, and head
to hang out before Akira leaves for Japan.
We're at Guava Mango. It's a hang out for kids
18-20 (so you're not hanging with younger teens or alcohol). It's
our fave hang out and we're here almost everyday. We're sitting
around the table and Kera starts to speak.
"Well, now what?" she says. "Akira's leaving and
we're just sitting in silence."
"Well it's hard to know your boyfriend is leaving
for freakin' Japan," I half-snap, "To know you're not going to
see him for years, possibly. It's a rough concept!"
"Sorry Heyley," Kera says, "At least you guys will
be able to stay in touch."
"That's true. But it won't be the same," I say as
I stare down into my drink. The silence returns, and tears start
rolling down my face.
Akira gets up and gives me a hug. "Baby, I'll try
to visit every chance I get. I'll e-mail you daily. There's no
way I'm letting you disconnect from my life. I promise. I love
I manage to say "I love you" back, but by then
it's time for us to leave Guava Mango. Desmond finds me some
tissues and we leave in silence.
The next day, all of us are standing at the
airport, to say our final goodbyes.
Desmond goes first. "So...your parents aren't
here, I see..."
"Yeah, we said 'bye' back home," Akira told
"Well that's cool. I guess..." Desmond
Akira laughs a little. "Yeah"
They hug, and I could've sworn that I saw a tear
roll down Desmond's face. And Akira's, for that matter.
Kera goes next. She just starts with giving a hug.
She's half-crying too. "If you don't e-mail her, I'll fly to
Japan, hunt you down, and make you e-mail her, do you
"I understand, Kera," he says with half
a smile, "Take care of her, okay?"
"Anything for her," she says.
My turn. I just stare at him, studying
his features one final time. It's extremely hard though, since my
eyes are filled with tears. He just pulls me into a hug and I
cry. He pets my long, brown hair and just whispers "I love you"
over and over again. He pushes me away from second so he can take
off his hoodie. It's black, and had a red heart with a line down
the center and another line near the bottom of the heart in the
middle of the hoodie itself. He slips it over my head onto my
body. "For you" he says. I hug him again and we just stand there
for a second. By now, Kera and Desmond are crying too. Akira
tells me that his flight is about to leave. More tears spill down
my eyes as we kiss goodbye. He says "bye" one last time and
checks through security. All of us wave goodbye and start to walk
away. I yell "I love you!" as I'm walking away. The last thing I
hear from him is "I love you too!"
Today is my 38th birthday! Today, I
decided to visit Kera. I haven't seen her in about 10 years. She
lives about an hour away, but it's worth every minute. I head to
her place, and I hit epic traffic. I decided to call Simone, my
daughter. She's 13 years old. "Hey babe, I just wanted to say
that I won't be home when you get home. I'm visiting a friend for
my birthday," I explain.
"That's awesome! Is it cool if Tim comes over?"
"I guess. But no funny business, you understand?"
I say firmly.
"Completely. Besides, I don't even like him. Not
after what he did to Rebecca." she says, with a hint of worry in
"What did he do?" I ask.
"Well since Rebecca is with Charles, Tim got
jealous and called her a "female dog" so she got Brady and Clara
to blackmail him by getting an embarrassing picture of him from
Frankie but Frankie's in deep crap with Ramona and Scott since
they apparently slept together and it's just a big mess," she
I'm completely lost. Rebecca has a boyfriend? Who
slept with who now? I just say, "Oh, that's terrible!"
"I know! Oh well. I better go. Oh guess what?" she
"What's up?" I ask.
"Today, I got the assignment to talk to a girl
from Japan! We're going to be pen pals, only not actually writing
and talking online. She's verified, so I won't be talking to some
creep," she explains.
This one I understand, and am relieved about.
"That's awesome! Well, I'm just about to get to Kera's. I'll talk
to you later. Love you," I say.
"Kera? The one who gave me that stuffed animal?
Tell her I say hey! Bye, love you," she says.
I hang up and pull into Kera's driveway. "Thank
God," I think to myself, "She still lives here".
I do a quick check in the mirror to make sure I
look okay. My long, brown hair is now short, and closer to black.
I've gotten glasses since the last time I saw Kera. I've slimmer
than last time, too.
In other words, I look completely different than I
did 20 years ago. Or ten years ago, for that matter.
I run up the walkway to ring the bell, but trip,
since I'm wearing heels. She sees me from her window and rushes
out to help me. "Ma'am, I'm not interesting in anything your
selling an-" she stops mid-sentence. "Heyley? Is that
"Hey there. I'd thought I'd surprise you with a
visit. May I come in and steal a giant Band-Aid from you?" I say,
as I notice my bleeding knee.
"Of course! Come right in," she says without
hesitation, "Please excuse the mess, the kids just don't listen
when I say to clean up."
"At least you don't have a teenager yet!" I say
with a laugh. "It can't be much worse than my place."
We walk in, and it's messy, but not terrible. We
head to the bathroom to fix my knee.
"So how's Desmond? I haven't seen him since the
last time I saw you", I ask. They had gotten married shortly
after they graduated from college. They have 3 kids, aged 11, 9
and 9 (she had twins)
She doesn't answer me. She takes a deep breath and
explains that he isn't here anymore.
She said that he was involved in an accident five
years ago. He was grocery shopping and some madman had come in
and opened fire. He tried to hide, but he couldn't. He was shot
twice in the arm, and died from blood loss. I just stood there
and had to sit down.
"It surprised all of us," she said after I had
some seconds to absorb the news, "We still miss him".
"Wow," I say with a small laugh, "Best birthday
"Today's your birthday? Oh...I completely forgot!
I'm so sorry to hit you with such big news today!" she
"Don't be silly. My husband left me on my birthday
so this is nothing".
"Draven left you on your birthday?!" she
"Yeah, 8 years ago. What a douchebag," I say,
still smiling for some reason.
"He is a douche," she says, "Listen, I feel so bad
for having you come all the way out but I actually have plans for
tonight...can we reschedule to hang out for another
"Believe me, that's perfectly fine. Besides, I
should go since Simone has a guy over and I don't want them
having too much fun." I say with a laugh.
"How old is she now anyways?" Kera asks.
"Thirteen. She says 'hey' by the way," I remember.
I feel proud of remembering; since my memory is shot from
everything I've been through.
"Tell her I say 'hey' back", she says, "Next time
you should bring her so she can occupy my kids."
"No problem. It was great seeing you again," I
say. We hug, and I hop back in my car and head home.
I get home close to 7 at night. "Simone? I'm
home!" I call into the house. Our dog, Alyssa, greets me by
jumping on my legs. Simone starts laughing, but I don't know
where she is. I find her online in her room.
"Hey Simone, how are you?" I ask.
"I'm good, what's up? How was Kera's?" she asks
"It was...fine," I had to choose the right words
to say, "Our friend apparently passed away a few years ago so I'm
a little shaken up."
"Oh Mom...I'm sorry," Simone says, "Anything I can
"Nah that's okay. Anyways, are you talking to your
pen pal person? From Japan?" I ask.
"Yeah, and she's so awesome! Apparently its 9 AM
her time! Isn't that amazing?" she asks. She's now apparently
fascinated with Japan.
"That's so cool! What's her name?" I ask
"Manami. She said it means 'love' in Japanese,"
she tells me.
"So pretty! Listen, I'm going to change my
clothes, and then do you want to grab a bite to eat?"
"Sure! I'll keep talking to Manami."
I head for my bedroom to change my clothes. I
find some comfortable jeans and a t-shirt and look through my
closet for a sweatshirt. I find one that had a layer of dust over
it. I'm completely confused, so I pick it up to find a red heart
with a line down the center and another line near the
It's the hoodie Akira gave to me years ago.
I tear up. I had forgotten about Akira. We never
e-mailed after he moved to Japan. I had moved on, and in college
I met Draven. But now, with Draven gone, I felt terrible about
forgetting about Akira.
"Hey Mom?" Simone asks from the door frame?
"Yes sweetheart?" I ask with a slightly broken
"Manami was telling me about her family, and
didn't you say you knew some guy named Akira at some point in
your life?" she asks.
"No, because I just remembered about him. How did
you know that about me?"
"Well, then, I guess you'd better watch your back
the next time you're drunk around me. You say some pretty messed
up stuff. Anyways, she said that he fell in love in high school
with a girl named Heyley. Do you know this guy?"
"Akira? Akira Watanabe? Is it really him?" I ask
anxiously. I'm clutching his hoodie with my fists.
"Yeah that's her last name!"
"Do you mind if I talk to her? Just for a minute?"
"Go for," she says.
I sit on her bed and talk to Manami. Manami says
that they were moving to the States soon, and asked if we would
be a place to stay until they found a house. I told her that
that's fine, and that we would see each other in one week.
I'm going to see Akira in one week.
I hope he didn't forget about me like the way I
Simone and I are standing at the airport. The same
exact place where I said "goodbye" to him 20 years ago. I'm
wearing his hoodie, and I'm shaking where I'm standing. "There's
Manami!" Simone suddenly bursts, and I jerk awake practically.
She runs over to meet an Asian girl. Next to her is Akira. Akira
has the same flawless face, the same almond eyes, and even longer
hair. I just stand in place and he comes over and gives me a hug.
"20 years later, and you're still just as beautiful as when I
last saw you," he says. I just stand there and hug him. Too much
happiness was flowing through me to say anything. "I missed you,"
I sputter eventually, "I'm sorry for not e-mailing."
"It's okay, it's okay," he says, "Let's head to
your place." All of us head out to the car and we drive
Once we're home, Simone and Manami head off to her
bedroom to discuss everything girls can possibly discuss. I fix
coffee for both of us and we catch up. Apparently, Akira's wife
passed away from cancer over ten years ago. "I'm so sorry. Have
you heard about...?" I say, not finishing the sentence.
"About whom?" he asks. Apparently, he has
"Desmond," I say.
"No...what happened? I haven't talked to
any of you guys in 20 years, remember."
"Desmond's gone. He married Kera after
college and five years ago he was shot and died from blood loss,"
"Oh God...when did you hear about this?"
"Just last week Kera and I talked. It
was the first time in ten years for us. We just lost touch," I
"Wow...what a week for you then. Listen,
I understand we haven't seen each other in years, but...are you
"No, my husband left me eight years ago.
I haven't been too interested since then," I say.
"What a douche. Well, maybe we can...you
know...pick up where we left off?"
I smile. "I'd love that more than
anything in the world".
We stand and we kiss. I missed him more
than anything. Sure, I had forgotten about him in my mind, but my
heart was aching for him. I just didn't realize until last
One year later. Akira and Manami have
moved in. When Akira said he was going house hunting, he went
engagement ring shopping instead. Now, we're married! After
waiting 20 years, we are actually married. Kera made it to the
wedding, and they were able to catch up as well. Simone and
Manami were overjoyed to become sisters. They became best friends
faster than the speed of light.
Now, I get to see Akira everyday. He's
the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see
before I sleep. I'm thankful everyday for this miracle.
Everything lined up so perfectly, and nothing makes me more
grateful. Now, let's hope we don't lose each other again, okay?
Because one miracle is enough for me.