I'll Always Come Back

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
How my grandpa and grandma first met and their story! :P It's pretty romantic! XD

Submitted: March 01, 2014

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Submitted: March 01, 2014

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I'll Always Come Back
This only just happened yesterday, the twenty-eighth of February. My dad, being a mommy's boy, wanted to visit my grandparents (his parents). “It's been a while since I've visited my mom and dad,” he said, at nine o'clock p.m. “Let's head out!” We didn't question why so late, my mom and I. In fact, we were used to my dad's randomness. So we all buttoned up our coats, pulled on our shoes, and settled ourselves in my dad's car. I sit in the backseat while mom takes passenger, and of course, my dad sits in the driver's seat.
My dad's car is stuffed full of random things. There's teddy bears everywhere (my mom think it's cute; I find it a little hilarious), and bags of blankets in the backseat nearly crush me to death. (As to why my dad's got blankets in his car, I have no idea.)
My dad's driving through London (I'm going to be vague) and once we reach my grandparents' place, my dad immediately cuts the engine and we run up to the front door of their house.
Grandma answers the door. She's a small lady with graying hair and happy personality. Two dimples dot her cheeks as she smiles warmly at us. My grandma's Japanese but she knows plenty of English. As we walk into her house, she's patting me on my cheek and telling me how tall I'm getting.
I love my Grandma. She's so awesome! Ha ha.
But anyways, my mom and dad head off into the kitchen with my grandma to prepare food for us to eat, while I go off into the living room where my grandpa is. He's looking through old photo albums, and when I begin to approach him, he looks up at me and grins.
My grandpa's got flecks of silver hair and a lot of gray. But like my grandma, he's also got a very amazing smile. He likes to go for walks and he gardens a lot.
“Hey there, Eden,” he greets me. I sit down next to him on the couch. “How's it going?”
“Hey Grandpa,” I tell him. “It's going good. Why are you looking at pictures?”
I point at the photo album in his hands. He smiles a smile full of wisdom (no lies, he really was) and holds it up. “Remembering the old times,” he says, turning to look at me. “Ever wonder why I, a china man, married your grandmother?”
Ever since I was a kid, I've known that grandma was Japanese whilst grandpa was Chinese. I never thought about it too much, except the difference in language. Shaking my head, I tell him, “Not really. It's not a big deal- why?”
My grandpa smiles. “Want to know the story of how I met your grandmother?”
A story! I've always loved my grandpa's storytelling. He'd tell me Chinese folktales when I was little (like The Legend Of Nian, Tales of Wu Song, etc), and I've always enjoyed them.
I nod. “Yeah!” I say, thoroughly excited. I've never thought about how my grandparents' met before but now that I think about it, it'd be an interesting story to hear! “Give me the dates and your ages and everything!”
My grandpa laughs. “Alright,” he says. “It was when we were both thirteen years old...”
 [The following will now be written in my grandpa's point of view.]

*~*~*~*~*

The first time I met her wasn't in school. It was the year 1940 in early October, when I was walking down the streets of my neighborhood. It was a chilly day, but chilly temperatures were always my favorite.
I was always walking during the weekends. My parents would let me walk in the early mornings, just as long as I came back in time for breakfast which would be around nine in the morning. For the first three weekends of October, I'd walk- and every single time, the sight of a girl in the wide window of a house would catch my eye.
She'd sit there playing a piano. From where I stood on the sidewalk, I could hear her play- it was beautiful and the songs she performed always managed to pull at my heart in a adoring way.
She was Asian, with long, flowing, dark hair. Her back was always turned away from me but I oddly, I thought her beautiful. Anyone who could perform music that amazing would be majestic in any way. Whenever I walked past her house, I'd purposely walk slower- just to hear her play and look at her.
I don't want to sound like a stalker or anything, but never before had I ever felt anything like this- a deep, resonating sense of peace and magnificence.
Then, one day in November, I walked past her house again. Only this time, she wasn't playing her piano.
Shocked, I found her sitting on the porch of her house. She was looking out into the neighborhood and silently crying- tears slowly making their way down her small, pale face.
A little disturbed, I paused on the sidewalk. Should I talk to her? Should I ask if she's okay? I think- contemplating for a moment- but all of a sudden, she turned her head to look at me.
I felt that, at that precise moment, the world had silenced around me and everything was still. The look of sadness in her round eyes, her expression of loss... it all compelled me to speak those first words.
“What happened?” I asked her. Slowly, I walked down the sidewalk of her house and stopped a few feet from where she sat on her porch. “Are you okay? Is there anything I can do to help?”
She stared at me with big eyes. I shifted uncomfortably, and immediately chastised myself for asking so many questions at once- after all- I was a stranger. People didn't talk to strangers.
After a few smalls seconds, the girl unexpectedly smiled at me. My heart fluttered as I smiled back- she had dimples on both sides of her cheeks. Her smile was beautiful, her piano playing was miraculous- I felt something pulling at my gut.
“I'm alright,” she answered, her cute voice ringing in my ears. “Thanks for asking. It's just...” Her bottom lip quivered. “My piano. It was taken away from me.”
“What?” I asked, surprised. “But why? You're an amazing player!”
She stared at me and immediately, I took two quick steps back. I knew that girls could be scary at times, according to what I've seen at school. What if she thought I was stalking her, even though I wasn't? I had only come to watch her play and listen for a while; that wasn't dangerous, was it? What if she clawed my eyes out?
“How do you know I play piano?” she asked me curiously.
She didn't seem too terrified of me. Blushing slightly, I bowed a little and looked away. “I'd walk through here just to listen to you play,” I confessed. “I wasn't stalking you or anything, but I just really thought your music was pretty.”
There were a few moments of silence.
I glanced at her quickly, and was shocked to find that she was smiling- so happy, so pure and innocent. I didn't know how to react.
“Thank you,” she said, wiping some tears off her face even as more fresh ones trickled from her eyes. “I never knew I had people listening. My parents found annoying, so they threw out my piano.”
“Then why did they get it in the first place?” I asked, a little annoyed at the girl's parents. She must have sensed my anger because she giggled a little.
“It was my uncle's,” she answered. “He'd come and visit often but he doesn't anymore. He left it here, at our house, and he hasn't come back for it.”
“Oh.” I nodded in understanding. “I see. Do you know where they threw it out? Maybe I can find it and bring it back to you-”
At this, the girl laughed. The sound of her happiness made me smile and the back of my neck tingled- I had made her laugh!
“It's okay,” she replied. “I'm fine now, thanks for coming to ask.” She paused for a bit, looking a little sad. “You won't be coming back now that I can't play,” she said, “right? Will you come back, even though my piano's gone?”
A weird sort of happiness coursed through me. “Of course I'll come,” I said, grinning. “As long as you're here, I'll always come back.”
The girl smiled at me and I smiled back. From that day on, we were the best of friends. It was only two weeks later on a bright Sunday morning, did I ask her for her name and age.
Akiko Ishimoto: that was her name. We were both thirteen years old. When she asked for mine, I told her, “Benjamin Li. But you can call me Ben.”
I was Chinese American, born in America. Chinese was my native language but I knew English as well. My mother and father had come to America for a new life just five years before my birth.
Akiko had been born in Hokkaido, Japan. They had only moved here to the Unites States when she was only four years old.
It was interesting to know her life story. Talking to her filled me with unexpected joy.
For the next two years, life went on like this. I was fifteen now, and my friends marveled at how I could stay single for so long (by now, each of them had two ex girlfriends). I told them that I was already interested in someone and was planning to ask her out later in life. In return, they all congratulated me, asking me who she was. I would only grin and tell them, “Someone. You'll see.”
In those two years of walking out every morning (or afternoons on some weekdays), I had come to a realization: I had feelings for Akiko. I wasn't sure if she felt the same for me, and I didn't think so.
My parents had noticed that I walked more often.
“Where do you go?” my mother would ask as we sit for dinner. “Maybe I should come along too sometime- I fear that I will get fat.”
I laughed at that. “I'm too fast, mom,” I had replied. It had been two years since I first met my loved one- I didn't want my mom to know about Akiko yet. “You should probably stay home and look after dad.”
“I'm not a child,” my dad answered indignantly, and my mom and I laughed. My dad certainly acted like he was at times.
Just one year earlier, 1941, the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor in the hopes of preventing the U.S Marines from interfering in the war. This was why my father was tense, even one year after that had happened. He didn't like violence; he would tell me how it reminded him of the old days in China. I'd ask him to elaborate on that, but dad had refused to tell me.
Despite what was happening to the world, I continued going to school and walking out to meet Akiko.
Everytime I saw her, my feelings would grow. She was happy, always smiling with her cute dimples. Akiko was cute, childish at times, loved art, and personality-wise: she was funny, kind, and gentle. Once, we had found a baby rabbit in her yard. Akiko had come to love the creature but when she had realized the rabbit was dying (it refused to get up) Akiko had cried.
I liked her- no, I loved her. I felt it, in my heart and soul. I couldn't love no other like this. After those two years of being with Akiko, I realized that no other girl looked or acted as attractive as she did, and I didn't mind that. After all, Akiko really is the most attractive girl on Earth.
In those two years of being in each other's company, I met her parents. Despite the fact that they had thrown out her piano, they were both loving and kind parents. Akiko loved them and I did too; they were funny, bright, and full of knowledge. I remember her father coming to sit with us outside- he'd share stories about life in Japan and how the United States was different. Her mother would cook food, and we'd all hang out on their little porch- me included.
Then, World War Two began. It was the year 1942, and everything shattered.

*~*~*~*~*

I sprinted down the sidewalk, excited. I couldn't wait to see Akiko again. It had been three days since I've last seen her and I could not stand it.
Jogging up to her house, I rang the doorbell with a wide grin on my face. Quickly, I shoved the small bouquet of roses behind my back- feeling the thorns digging into the palms of my hands. The pain didn't hurt since it would all be worth it as soon as I presented the flowers to Akiko.
Akiko's dad answered the door. I grinned up at him.
“Is Akiko home?” I asked, and was going to continue telling him that I had flowers for her but the look of sadness on his face stopped my next words.
“What happened?” I questioned, my eyes widening with fear. “Are you okay? Is Mrs. Ishimoto okay? And Akiko- is she okay- ?”
Mr. Ishimoto shook his head. “We're fine,” he said, his voice low. “Go home, Ben. This isn't the place for you.”
“What?” I was bewildered. Looking around Mr. Ishimoto's broad figure and into their living room, I spotted Akiko standing there, barefoot. Tears dripped down her face, just like the day when I had first talked to her.
“Akiko!” I called out and made to run around her father, but he stopped me with one strong hand. As if with all the strength of the world, Mr. Ishimoto got on one knee- and the look on his face, I knew, I would always remember.
“Please,” he pleaded. “Go home. It's not safe for you here- if people saw you talking to us, they'd-”
“- do nothing,” I completed the sentence for him. I had no idea what was going on, but Akiko was crying; I had to do something. “Please, Mr. Ishimoto, let me go in! Akiko's crying-”
“Go away!” Akiko shouted angrily. Both equally shocked, both mine's and her father's attention was turned to her.
“What?” I whispered. Akiko was glaring at me with sudden frustration.
“I don't want to see you anymore!” she screamed at me. “Go away! Go home!”
“But-” I said, my heart breaking. I held out my hand to her just like how I always would, she would always take it- but Akiko turned away from me.
“Go home,” she snapped at me- her voice was trembling. “I don't want to see you anymore. Don't come back.”
I looked at Mr. Ishimoto, fright widening my eyes. He looked at me with sorrow and pushed me lightly towards the stairs. “Go home,” he murmured.
And I did. I ran home with tears of my own streaking down my face. Why had Akiko yelled at me? Was she tired of me? Did she hate me? Why? Because I kept coming over? Was I scaring her with my continued presence?
As soon as I got home, I ran to my room, locked the door, and threw the bouquet of roses onto my desk. Both my parents knocked on my door, demanding that I open it at once- but I didn't dare. I was too busy drowning in my own despair. The girl I loved, Akiko... she hated me now and never wanted to see me again. I didn't know why, but that didn't matter: it was her wish for me to be gone and I would obey it, no matter how much I didn't want to.
I cried that whole entire day, and my parents eventually gave up. The knocking on my door ceased.
I cried myself to sleep. The next morning, I woke up crying. The two years that I had been with her, those two years worth of experience, now gnawed away at my heart- eating me out from the inside. I felt oddly empty and soulless.
“Ben!” my mother shouted impatiently through the door. I sat straight up in surprise. “Come out at once! If you don't, you'll miss breakfast!”
I didn't answer. Instead, I laid back down on my bed, tears continuing to slide down my face.
“Come, son,” my dad's voice was heard now- he sounded worried. “You don't have to tell us what happened. Come out and at least let us see our son's face.”
Something about my dad's tone convinced me to get up and open the door. Once I had, my mother had enveloped me in a big hug, cooing my name while my dad stood aside with a small smile. In his eyes, I could see panic in his eyes.
We all sat down at the table to eat breakfast. My father was reading the newspaper, I noticed. With puffy eyes, I turned to read the big, bold headlines:

Get 'em out!


“Get who out?” I asked suddenly, my awareness heightened. I stopped eating as my dad looked at me.
“The Japanese,” my dad answered. “It's been a while now- they've been shunned from society ever since that happened. President Roosevelt has stated that the Japs go somewhere-”
“Go where?” I demanded hurriedly. My dad looked at me in confusion.
“Somewhere far, far away,” my mother answered with a sad look. I turned to stare at her as she piled some rice into my bowl. “After the bombing at Pearl Harbor, people are finding the Japanese Americans suspicious.”
I didn't think at all. One second I was sitting there- and the next, I was hurtling out the door with my shoes barely on my feet.
Questions sprang to mind as I ran towards Akiko's home. My father's words reached me: they've been shunned from society ever since that happened. Why hadn't I noticed sooner? Was I so caught up with the idea of being with her that I didn't realize what was going on around me? Reaching her neighborhood, I immediately started towards the front door-
Just in time to spot them getting into their car.
Akiko!” I yelled, running towards the car. I watched as Akiko, sitting in the backseat, turned to look at me. Surprised etched across her face and immediately, she jumped out of the car.
Ben!” she cried, running towards me. She leaped into my arms and I held onto her tightly as we both cried.
“I'm sorry for saying all of that yesterday,” she spluttered against my chest. “I'm sorry, but it was the only way to get you to go away! I didn't want you to be here when we would go-”
“Go where?” I asked her, hugging her tightly. “Stay with me- your whole entire family! You can all hide in my closet or-”
“We have to go,” she whispered, looking into my eyes. “We're going somewhere- it's what the President said. I-I'm sorry, I-I-”
Then, I did one sure thing. I held her chin gently, leaned in, and kissed her.
It was a brief moment but when I pulled back, the look on her face shattered me. She looked at me with warmth, with sorrow, with defeat and fear, and most of all- with love.
“I love you,” I said, holding her closer to me. We were fifteen years old- sure, too young to be saying 'love'- but now was the time to say it if anything. “I love you, Akiko.”
Her crying became louder. More tears streaked down her face as she looked up at me.
“I love you too,” she whispered, her voice cracking. I brushed away her tears as she continued, “I love you too, Ben. I've always loved you, ever since we met.” She paused, holding up her hand and placing her palm lightly against my tear-stained cheek. “Will you wait for me?” she asked, her tears coming down even harder. “Will you come back to me?”
It was like the first day we had first met. Smiling through what felt like a waterfall of tears, I answered, “Of course I'll come. As long as you're here, I'll always come back.”
The world darkened, as she kissed me on the cheek and said her goodbyes. She told me that she loved me- for the last time? I did not know- and I told her I loved her too.
Her parents waved at me, looking miserable but slightly happy- at what, I don't know. They drove off then, and the last thing I ever saw was Akiko's dimpled smile through more tears.
I walked back home, feeling completely empty now. The feeling I felt right then and there was something I never wanted to feel again- a sense of loss, like a big tornado had just gone and ripped out everything I had to value.

And then, I felt it. A stinging in the palms of my hands. I held them up to my face, peered closely at my hands, and realized the bleeding marks of the roses' thorns from yesterday.

The pain and agony. I clenched my hands into fists.
My parents were waiting for me when I came back. They had thought I had ran away. Shaking my head, I told them everything that had happened- the two years I had been walking, the reason why I walked so often. The Japanese girl I loved so much- how she was gone and the fact that I probably would never see her again...
My mother hugged me, crying through her own tears. My dad patted me on the shoulder and told me I had become a true man.
“Wait for her,” he said, wiping my tears with a calloused hand. “You promised her, didn't you? Wait for her... love like yours always has a home.”
That night when I went to sleep, I prayed for whatever God, whatever deity to protect her. And from that day on, I kept my mind on the news, paying attention to the War that continued in the hopes that the Japanese Americans would finally come home.

*~*~*~*~*

“Thank you for coming and have a nice day,” I said to the customer. She nodded curtly at me and left the shop with her bag of groceries in hand.
It had been three years since Akiko had gone. It was the year 1945 of January now, and I had begun to think I'd never see her again. If that was the case, I was determined to never love another women- and I was sure it would work. I wasn't upset about it either: Akiko was the only one for me.
Since that day she left with her parents, I had found work at the local grocery store and was in my first year of college. Life had been eerily empty since then- my parents were now living in our same house, happy that their only child had begun his journey into adulthood.
I sighed. Akiko Ishimoto. I rolled her name around in my head. Where was she? Was she okay now? I turned away from the counter and blinked away the sudden wave of tears that threatened to overtake me. I had to pull myself together, for Akiko. She wouldn't want me to fall into a puddle of emotions, would she?
The bell rang, signaling another customer had walked in. Immediately turning around, I faced the new person and smiled as brightly as I could, despite what I was feeling. “Welcome!” I greeted, but stopped short as the girl looked at me.
She was Asian, with familiar brown eyes. Her long, dark hair was braided and she wore a thin black jacket. Something about the way she held herself, something about the way her lips were shaped- and her eyes-
Recognition flickered across her features just as my eyes widened with shock. Could it be? Could it? Hope dwindled like a candle's flame inside of me-
“Ben?” she whispered. And then I knew.
“Akiko,” I said, beaming. I jumped over the counter (startling a nearby customer, but I didn't care) and ran to hug her, just as she leaped into my arms- like she had done the day she left three years ago.
“I've missed you so much!” Akiko exclaimed, kissing me on the cheek. “You're still here! I'm so happy! I was thinking you had gone-” Her smile was so wide, and as I admired her presence, I noticed her cute dimples.
“I said I'd always come back to you, didn't I?” I asked her, kissing her gently on her nose.
“You did,” Akiko agreed, grinning. "I love you."

I grinned back.
“I'll always love you,” I replied, leaning down to kiss her.
We were reunited once again. We both had questions for each other, we knew, but now that we were together- we had all the time in the world to catch up with each other.

*~*~*~*~*

[Present time: Me (Eden)'s POV:]
I gape at my grandpa.
He smiles pleasantly at me.
“That's how?..” I ask him, shocked. His story had been completely amazing, completely beautiful, and completely tear-jerking. I was speechless and other words seemed to fail me as I stare at him.
“Yes, that's how,” my grandpa, Ben, answers. “Did you like it?”
“Are you kidding?” I shouted, standing up and waving my arms around. “That was amazing! Your story- how you met grandma- it was-”
I spend the next five minutes ranting about how his story was awesome, how emotional it was and how my heart had bled in tune with each of his words. He holds up his hand to stop me, laughing.
“Okay, I get it, Eden,” he says, grinning. “I'm glad you liked it.” Then, he looks around me to the doorway- and his smile becomes even wider.
“Here they are!” he says. “Akiko, what did you guys make? I'm starving!”
And then we eat, right there in the living room. I watch as grandma Akiko shovels a spoonful of curry into my grandpa's mouth- he almost chokes but everyone's laughing, including him.
Who knew grandparents had such amazing tales to give? I certainly didn't, but I'm glad that I knew now.


© Copyright 2017 Eden L. All rights reserved.

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