Ephemeral

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
The most recent and longest short story I have ever written. Not much editing has been done on it thought, so I would appreciate any feedback.

Submitted: June 05, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 05, 2016

A A A

A A A


Ephemeral

Full Bloom

The Japanese Sakura, the cherry blossom tree, blooms for only two weeks. It is during this time the Hanami festival occurs, where people gather to view the unique pink petals of the cherry blossom trees.

***

A cool breeze was blowing on the day I read the letter, the branches above me waving and inviting me to sit underneath their protection. The smell of freshly mown grass was in the sky. The sunlight pierced through the clouds, but lost its way in the cluster of branches and pink petals above my head. The park was always empty at this time. Most people would either be at work or school now.

I sat on the usual bench positioned right underneath a tree. Our mothers would sit here and watch over us, as we went about our business. I took a deep breath, and opened the envelope in hand.

Inside was three items, but it was the photograph which had caught my attention. Two small girls were sitting on a bench, underneath a tall tree. They were dressed in traditional Japanese Yukatas, specially designed for their petite figures. One of the girls had raven hair tied neatly in a bun while the others was blonde, and left unruly and loose. The tree behind was in full bloom, as pink petals covered most of the picture.

***

“Hanako, up here!”

The blonde girl called out to her friend, while reaching for the highest branch of the tree to pull herself up.

The dark haired girl looked up with uncertainty. Her eyes closely followed her companion who was slowly making her way up the tree, taking a break after each step.

“Hanako, quick grab my hand and I’ll pull you up!” Hanako offered up her hand and replied “O-ok, I’ll try my best”.

Their hands locked together, but Hanako’s sweaty palms shortened their union. She started to lose her grip.

The blonde haired girl made a quick grab for Hanako’s forearm, her other hand desperately holding onto to the trunk of the tree. Hanako’s foot waved wildly in the air, searching for some footing to help regain her balance.

Through the joint strength of both girls, Hanako was safely pulled up to the top of tree, as the friends embraced each other, tears streaming down their frightened faces. Still shaking from what had just happened, the girls stared out to the festival of petals and laughter below.

***

A smile formed on my lips. The danger, so immediate to us then, had been over so quickly and with the innocence of children we became fast friends. Those days spent with her, were times of bliss. Times when I didn’t have to worry about the exhaustion of work, or coming home to an empty house and a cold cup of coffee.

Alongside the photograph was a small bracelet that was made out of several cherry blossom petals woven together with a piece of string. Upon closer inspection I noticed that the “petals” were actually pieces of pink fabric. An ingenious idea as the actual petals would have wilted by now. But I wonder why she would send me this? I already had mine from back then.

***

“Hanako, what are you making?”

“Me? I’m making us some bracelets using this fabric. I’m going to cut it out in the shape of petals.”

The blonde haired girl watched Hanako work her crafts closesly. Every movement of the scissors was precise and deliberate. Each petal was perfect in shape and size as if she had taken them off an actual tree. Then she proceeded to poke small holes in each of the petals, just the right size to allow a strand of string to fir through. It was very meticulous and tedious work that was driving the blonde haired girl crazy just by watching.

Finally, the pair of bracelets were complete.

***

The letter might have an explanation. At first glance it would have made no sense. It was like she had printed together a series of lines and numbers in a wild and illegible way. To a stranger it might have been considered some incomprehensible joke or a form of postmodern art. But for me these lines were like the branches above, strong and familiar.

***

“Like this” Hanako said, holding the paper firmly down against the wind. She lifted her paint brush and showed her friend how to write the Japanese Kanji for “flower”. When she drew Kanji, it was more than just a symbol. It was art, a piece strong enough to impress the strictest of her calligraphy teachers.

The blonde haired girl tried to replicate what her friend was drawing.

“Umm, I think you’ve invented a new symbol there. Hey, I know, why don’t we just make our own code, something only we know?”

“Can we please add some English Hanako? Japanese is too hard.”

“Okay, we can replace all the vowels with the letter ‘A’.”

“Yaa maan laka thas?”

The girls broke out into laughter.

Several days had passed after the height of the cherry blossom festival. The park had returned to its usual emptiness, but the girls returned to the same tree near the bench. Petals were strewn across, nestled in the grass below.

Just as the Sun had started to set, the girls collected their implements and admired their work. It was the product of hours of hard work, a labour that seemed to them enormously impressive.

***

The letter she had sent was the first draft for our new language. I was touched that she had preserved this page for all these years. Seeing the page, I couldn’t help but laugh at our childish selves.

There was second page, this time in a familiar style. However handwriting was very poor, unusual for someone as neat and tidy as her. It was barely legible, but I managed to struggle through the splashes of ink and roughly drawn words.

It was the strangest letter I had ever read. Sentences were broken half way, a lot of words were crossed out, and it didn’t feel complete. Was she in a hurry when writing this? And the words in the letter were the strangest part. Her words had usually had a musicality to them, as if she spoke in prose. But this letter sounded desperate and tense, like a student rushing to finish their paper in the final moments of an exam.

She had summarised all of our childhood moments. The thrills and joys we shared. I could hear her gentle voice come through the harsh looking words.

Her letter made me forget that 20 years had passed since she’s talked to me. Just having a piece of her heart in my hands, I felt all my doubt and insecurity float out of my chest, and carried away by the wind in the midst of those cherry blossom leaves.

Falling Petal

A strong pink-tinged breeze blew from the window. The papers around me were blasted across the room. Where did I put those glasses? My hands searched around the table. A sharp sensation caused me to recoil, drops of red staining my pink and white table.

Oh. I remembered putting them in my drawer. I checked, and there they were, smirking at my antics. I slapped them on, and was immediately greeted by the mess of pink petals and papers placed haphazardly around the study. I sorted through it all to get a pen, and a clean page. 

What do I write?

What do I write after so long?

I haven’t written a letter in a while, so it has to be something good.

My wrinkled hands reached for the photograph on my desk. Two little girls in front of a cherry blossom tree. I still find it hard to believe that I had actually climbed that tree. The thrill of danger, and the joy of making it to top safely. Feelings I would never have experienced if not for her.

I suppose I should thank her. She has given me so much, and all I can give in return is a poorly written letter. If only I had more time.

Knock, knock

I froze. It was too soon. There must be some sort of mistake.

 “Please, just give me a little longer. Just a few more minutes.”

I had to focus on this letter. But what else can I do? I know, the bracelet I made. I wonder if she still has hers. Probably not. Why would someone bother to keep such a cheap memento? A memento from someone who she hasn’t even heard from in over 20 years.

Knock, knock

Ugh. I thought had more time than this. I quickly jotted down some words on the paper. It was hard to reflect and write at the same time.

The letter was an absolute mess. The page was torn, the words barely legible and almost half it I had scribbled over. Whatever. I don’t have time to write another one.

I grabbed an empty envelope from my desk drawer.

Before sealing the letter and the bracelet, the photograph caught my eye once again. Where I’m going, I won’t need it. But she can preserve this memory, for the both of us. I placed the photo in the envelope, taking care not to damage it.

Knock, knock

“I’m coming already. Geez, no respect for the elderly these days huh.”

But I didn’t have to move from my chair. The door slammed open, and I flinched despite seeing it all happen. After a moments reprieve, a flurry of pink petals flew into my room and headed straight towards me. There was a loud crack, and the world around me was brushed into a mess of colours.

Illusion

That painting was all I could think about. It was a symphony of colours, with pink being the lead instrument. From afar, it was an incoherent splatter of paint on a piece of paper. But as you walked closer out of intrigue, the pink clouds become delicate petals. The brown scribbles turn into firm branches which holds the painting together. The bland green and blue form a fusion of grass and sky unlike any other.

But it was those pink petals that kept my eyes glued to the painting. Each petal was drawn as a unique entity, and each looked more delicate than the one before. I noticed that some petals had fallen. An unknown rage sparked within my soul. The sullen dirt does not deserve to touch such a precious and beautiful being. No. These miracles of nature must be held in high regard and the soil must know its place.

Some of the petals were falling to the ground. I was tempted to grab them. Anything to prevent them from touching the cursed soil.

Customers, the museum will be closing in 20 minutes. Please start making your way to the exit. Thank you.

Closing time already? I looked down at my watch. Almost 7pm. I was in a bit of a daze, like I’d been sucked back into reality. I also noticed that my stomach was grumbling. How long was I staring at the painting?

My eyes found their way back to the masterpiece. I was starting doubt myself. Is it normal to be so deeply in love with art that wasn’t even my own.

“Excuse me sir, but the museum is closing now. I’m afraid you’ll have to come back tomorrow.”

***

There was a nice breeze outside the museum. I found an empty bench underneath a naked tree. Under the moonlight, the branches looked like skinny arms reaching towards the sky. I looked at my watch again. 7:30pm. Only 12 more hours, and the museum will open again.

Rise from the Ashes

It felt like a dream. The night sky was pitch black, not a single star could be seen. I could hear the crunching of leaves, slowly getting louder. The smell of wet dirt and leaves filled the air. Funny, I don’t remember it raining recently.

I looked around desperately, but it was impossible to see anything through the darkness. I waved my arms around trying to feel for my surrounding. No luck.

The tree won’t last much longer

Huh? Who said that?

I walked what I presumed was forward. More crunching noises. It definitely wasn’t coming from me. I felt a sudden tap on my shoulder. I must be imaging it, there was no else here. There couldn’t be.

Another tap. This time, he didn’t let go of my shoulder. I tried to shrug off the hand, but his grip was too firm. I turned to face him, but no sooner than I looked back, there was no one there. Where there should have been a man, I could see a faint light.

The light intrigued me. I was drawn towards it. While taking small steps to reach the light, I was unable to avert my eyes. As I got closer I felt the light radiating an unusual warmth. My slow walk quickly turned into a jog and before I knew it I was running at full speed.

I could start to make out the silhouette of a tree. At the bottom of the tree was a pool of light. Taking a closer look however, I noticed that the source of light was actually a pile of glowing pink leaves. Naturally, I picked one up to study it.

The petal was quite beautiful. The soft glow accentuated its pink hue. Such a shame that they were all on the ground.

Please…save the tree

That voice again? Hmm. How would I save the tree? It looks beyond saving. The branches were falling apart. It looked as if they would crumble into tiny pieces if I touched them. There had to be another way.

Then it hit me. I got down on my knees and searched through the pile of petals. Ah. Found it. A few small seeds that were lost in the mess. I carefully put in them in the pocket of my jacket and zipped it up.

When taking my hand out, I felt my lighter. Looking back at the tree, the glow of the petals were dimming. It didn’t have long left. I turned the lighter on, and closed my eyes.

A purging spark to end all pain

What secrets lie within the dancing flames

Perhaps the key to the seeds of life

From which we will rise from the ashes

Full Circle

It was the morning of the festival. That meant the aroma of freshly cooked onigiri and a generally happy atmosphere. Emily and I were awake since the break of dawn. We helped out some of the locals to set up their stalls and decorations. One of them gave us a few cherry blossom seeds, two small shovels and a pail of water.

“What are we supposed to do with these things?”

Great question Ems. Some people plant them I think, but why would you want to do that?

“Hey why don’t we plant them? I know just the spot too!”

She ran off in a random direction. I tried my best to keep up until she finally stopped in front of a bench.

“This bench could do with some shade. Come on, help me dig a hole.”

By the end of the task, out yukatas had been dyed a dirty brown. But Ems was too busy at work to notice. She carefully placed the seeds in the ground and filled the hole. After watering the plant, she sat back on the ground and rubbed the sweat off her forehead.

“I can’t wait till this tree blooms! It’s going to look so pretty.”

There was a nice spring breeze in the air and the sun was above our heads. I laid down on the grass, and heard Emily follow suit. It might be a while before we are able to chill out together like this.

“I want you to promise me something.”

A promise? Hmm.

“When we get older, we have to meet each other at the place where we planted out tree. Maybe in about 30 years, so we can see the tree bloom.”

30 years huh. I smiled. I think I can manage that. 


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