Painful Recollections

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story on ostracism. How the meeting of an ostracized boy with a person who received him changed his life.

Submitted: January 08, 2014

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Submitted: January 08, 2014

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~~Part 1

1

Monday, August 20 2013

Dear diary,

Today, I arrived in this small village. The train ride was long and tiring but I finally made it! I gotta say, the transition of the setting from the big city to the countryside sure is amazing. I witnessed grey transform to green and the polluted air to the 'pure and fresh air' my uncle loves so much. I wondered how my new home would look like but I soon got my answer; the place looks a typical rural village stuck in the 1960s. It's an agricultural village of less than five thousand inhabitants, everybody knows each other, there are fields everywhere and almost no cars, and a general store. Yes, a general store! Of course, I hope there will be some other shops like restaurants or coffee shops but there really is a huge contrast between where I come from and here. Since the town is surrounded by mountains and the number of cars owned by the denizens can be counted with the fingers of my hands, the train station is the portal between this world and the outside. Kinda funny.

My uncle was waiting for me when I got off the train. Actually, he was the only one waiting and I, the only one getting off the empty train so we couldn't miss each other. When he saw me, a large smile illuminated his face; mine too. It have been ages since I last saw him.

There wasn't a single soul on the road today because of the rain but my uncle told me that it was the rainy season so it wasn't a big even. It's kinda depressing but good for the crops... I guess? My uncle's house looks just as peasant-ish as all the others with its old wooden features but it doesn't really bother me. The only worry I have is to know if the wood it's made of can withstand the rain...

I will be spending the next year in this small village.
Will I like it here?

2

I don't know how many times I will have to transfer nor how many times I will end up living in the middle of nowhere but this time, it looks like I will be staying here for a while. Of course, it is only until my father's decides that he painted all there was to paint and we will have to move once more. His job as a freelance artist and photographer forces us to move from place to place all the time, never staying in a single location for more than a few months, a year at most. Ironically, this place is like a mirror opposite of my life. My life style is that of a nomad, ever changing, and the life in this town is like a never ending cycle of daily routines. Each day resembles the previous and the next will look like the current. As I already said, my dad's job requires him to move from place to place or, should I say, from town to town. I have lost count of how many times we moved and countless were the times I have been introduced to an unfamiliar setting, a new school, a new 'home', new classmates, and new relations.

For 6 months, I have stayed here. My dad told me that this time, we will be staying here for good. He told me that we would finally settle. Liar. He told me that I could make myself at home. At home. What is home? A place where I sleep? Or a town where I live? For someone like me, to be told to settle and live in a place called home, in this nowhere, this town surrounded by the mountains, in a place where everyone already knows each other but don't know, don't want to know me. Can I call this place a home?

For 6 months, I live my life, my own life, stuck in a never ending routine with nothing to break me from it. I go to school, I go home, I sleep, I get up, and I go to school just to come back later that day. On Sundays, I spend my day outside because it's not good to stay secluded in one's house. But now, it's the summer vacations so I spend my days outside everyday. Today, I was at the train station, taking shelter from the falling rain. The station is the only place where nobody would go, except for me so I would often be there. It is never used except for deliveries but that is on Tuesdays once every two weeks and on Tuesdays, I am never there. Every few hours, the noise of a passing train disturbs the quiet in my temple. However, it never really lasts long and nobody ever comes out of the train anyways. But today was different. An old man was waiting for someone on the platform and I saw a young girl get off with a hand grabbing her luggage. And when the two persons saw each other, a hug was given. The girl was about my age and once their exchange over, they walked towards the exit. Was she a newcomer?

Today was a weird day; someone arrived here and once I left the station to go home, the sun decided to come out.


3

Friday, August 24 2013

Dear diary,

It really is small over here. There isn't much to do in town and since I've only arrived, I had to spend most of my time organizing and unpacking my stuff. My bedroom is on the second floor, right next to the bathroom and in front of my uncle's. The house isn't very big but at least it can withstand the rain's assault and it feels very cozy.

The village, I would say, is composed of four sections. First, there is the centre of the village, where the general store, the mayor's office, the town hall, and various pawn shops are located. It seems to be the heart of the village. South of it is the second section; the fields. Being surrounded by mountains on the east and west side, the fields extend until it can't extend anymore. It's where most people spend their days and even though its length is restricted by the mountains, it still has many dozens of kilometres of acreage. The third section is the residential one, east of the centre. It's composed of a few hundred of houses but even though the place is called residential, it's not where the majority of the population lives. They live on the field, I heard from my uncle, where they can always watch their crops. It doesn't get more rural than that, haha. From the residential area, there is a road to school, the school I will be attending. That road is the one that goes from school to the residential area, the town hall, and the train station, the fourth section of the village. Basically, the road I will be walking on everyday is the one that links every section of the village, and one of the only actual road here. The train section is west of the town hall. It's isolated from the rest of the village and that is where the road ends. After that, it's a bunch of other roads and it's by riding them that the national road appears. It takes hours, just saying. By the way, I wonder why the people in this village or whoever build the station built it so far away from everything else. It takes thirty minutes to get there by walking from the rural downtown. By car, ten, but still, it's so remote and... lonely. My uncle told me that no one ever goes there except when the deliveries come, once every two weeks, and that the ticket men has the easiest job in this village. Well, there is an exception to the rule; when other people decide to come here.

I didn't bring much with me; only a bunch of clothes. I know, it really isn't a lot for a girl of my age but I really wanted to focus on my studies this year and, of course, helping around the house. Besides, I'm sure I'll have lots of fun with the people I will meet here.

By the way, school starts next week! I'm gonna go buy my school supplies tomorrow and I don't have to worry; they have everything I need at the general store. I still haven't gotten used to this place, but I'm getting there!

4

School's already gonna start in a week. Incoming: another year of boredom, sitting on a chair, listening to the teacher go on and on for hours. I feel as if the time I spend at school, pretending to listen, answering questions, and taking quizzes, could be used to do something more... useful. Looking at my classmates, who really listens? Most of them just sleep or play on their phones, when they have one. Since the town is so small, there is only one school in the area and one class per grade. Already then, the class is only composed of 16 students. Of course, there's always the fat kid, the intellectual, the athletic guy, and the gossip girls. Yes, even in the countryside, those stereotypes exist.

Lying down on an empty field on a fine end of summer day, I was gazing at the clouds lost in my thoughts. I wondered if the girl I saw last time at the station will come to my school? It is the closest one from the town so the answer should be obvious; unless she is willing to go on a two hour long drive each morning just to attend class in a neighbouring town. I already know the welcome reserved for the outsiders. The people in this town, because of how long have they stayed isolated and together, became unwilling to accept change. The unsettling atmosphere in the classroom when I was first introduced to my new classmates could easily be felt; their refusal to accept a stranger in the clan, the fact that even if I acted like them, I would always be different. Not as if I cared. I wonder when was the moment I realized that I stopped caring? Maybe it was the moving. Every time I got introduced to new people, I tried to be friendly and nice with them. Back in kinder garden, friendship was an easy enterprise but as I grew older, I came to realize that people would rarely approve the coming of a 'new kid' in their circle of friends. Time passed and scarce were the times when I would spend more than half a year in the same prefecture, and at the same time, the people I met gradually grew more and more distant from me, until the moment I stopped trying to reach them. Lost in my thoughts, the sky quickly turned dark and it was already late. Time to go home.

5

Monday, September 2 2013

Dear diary,

Today, class started. The school is about twenty kilometres from where I live so I biked my life to not be late! The road to school is a straightforward path of ground, flat and barren. Unfortunately, I somewhat and somehow got lost (yeah, I know) and ended up late. Once I arrived at the front gate, I couldn't help being startled by the uncommon... smallness of my new school and the shocking difference between this one and my old, city one. I wondered if I didn't arrive at the wrong place.  I checked the address and yeah, it was really it. The building was two stories high, quite usual, but it was the length of it that was surprising. It barely made 20 meters. The wall consisting of white cement was immaculate and in the middle of it all, the entrance with a clock suspended atop. The all was completed by a few windows. As I got in, the secretary, a small lady with glasses, let me know that I was late and missed the opening ceremony but at least I was on time for my first class. I thanked her and as I walked towards my classroom, I couldn't stop looking around. Everything was... white. The walls, the floor, everything. Not a single poster was displayed except for the billboard, which displayed a welcome message, next to the entrance. From the secretariat, two paces front, turn left, fifteen more, turn left again and I open the door to my new classroom. I'm in group 5. It's easy to remember since it's the only one in my grade. Actually, there is only one group for every grade and a dozen of students for each of them. The size of the room was according to its occupants; small. Three rows of desks arranged in an orderly manner, the teacher's desk, a blackboard in front and a closet in the back of the room. They were taking roll calls. I excused myself and sat at the only desk still available, bottom left corner. Class start.

Of course, I don't know anyone yet. Everyone seems to already know each other and I didn't really get the any chance to speak with them. As soon as we were relieved for lunch break, everyone just... disappeared in their own corners or something. In the classroom were left only me and the guy who sits next to me. After engaging in a conversation, all he said was 'I see you are new here.' and 'good luck'. Talkative. When lunch break ended a few minutes later, everyone magically reappeared and the teaching resumed its flow.

Miss Kat is our homeroom teacher. She teaches us most of our subjects except for PE. She says she's a MIT graduate but seriously, what is she doing here then? Of course, I am amazed by her talent, teaching everything from math to history and science all by herself. And at this grade...

After school, I saw the same guy who was alone all day mount his bike. I didn't catch his name so I tried to interact with him but he gave me the cold shoulder. Is he always like that? It was lonely today. On my way home, I couldn't help but wonder why everybody was acting so strange... Well, no use fretting, it is after all my first day here... Maybe everyone just needs a little time to get used to my presence? I don't know. Anyways, I gotta help my uncle tonight making supper and I'm writing this in my room on my desk; the only furniture in my room aside from my bed and shelf. I plan on sleeping early tonight so I can replenish my energy for tomorrow. So bye!

6

Today is the day school starts. So I decided to go. Not that I had anything better to do.

7

Friday, October 4 2013

Dear diary,

it's been a month already! I'm sorry for neglecting you but honestly, there is absolutely nothing going on in my life. So I decided that instead of just spamming you with whatever rubbish occurring  in my days here, I will only keep the memorable events. In my stay here, I wanted to create lots of happy memories. Of my time with my uncle, of this town, and of the people I will meet.

Ever since my first day of school, almost nothing has happened to distract me from my daily routine. I leave for school really early (I learned!), I attend class, go home, do my homework, make supper, and sleep. Class is always taught by Miss Kat but honestly, her teaching is really... loose. She just stands in front of the class and starts talking. Going on and on and on and on and... Zero class participation. Well, at first, I was always raising my hand to answer but when I started realizing that it was just me, I stopped. The lack of motivation doesn't seem to bother her though, I guess she got used to it. For homework, she always give us pages in our manual to do but no one ever does them, except for me. Well, it's not as if she cared, or bothered to correct any of the stuff she gave us. As for the guy sitting next to my, always the silence still. If I looked at the “what am I doing here” level of the class and compared it to his, his must surpass everyone's by just about five gazillion percent. The guy is always looking at his phone or scribbling something anyways so he can't be bothered by the world. Why is everyone here so depressing? Sigh...

Anyways, for good news! I finally successfully achievemently (I know it's not a word) made contact with another human being in this town! Her name is Yuu. She is a little girl in third grade I met by searching for her lost dog. One day, as I was biking my way home, I saw her alone on the road. As I stopped to ask her what was wrong, she burst in tears, wailing and telling me between two cries how she lost her puppy. I couldn't just leave her like that so I decided to help her look for it. And after an hour long search, I finally found it hiding in a brush. I was a cute little thing, just about 20cm high and weighting 4 pounds. At the sight of her puppy, a bright smile replaced her crying face. It was getting late so I decided to take her home. Funny thing is, her dad is actually a friend of my uncle and I was about to visit them in just a few days. Yuu's dad told me not to worry, and that he would tell my uncle about what happened and to hurry on home.

Tomorrow, I will go visit them with my uncle.

It's been a long day, dear diary, I will probably write again tomorrow.

8

October is the month in which most of the leaves fall and in which the rain is more unsettling than ever. On rainy days, I am forced to stay indoors since, of course, I don't wanna get wet and also because the station is closed for repairs. The clothes I wear, the shoes I put, the house I live in, nothing doesn't reek of humidity and of the rain during this period of the year. And during this time of the year, the signal on my phone goes bad. I won't be able to receive calls nor texts. Not that it really matters but I can't help but to hold on, on the memories I have of them, of the only past I wished to remember...

When I was five, I was living in a house with my parents and my brother. I remember going to kinder garden and there, I met this person, my first friend. In my early childhood, I was really happy, I had a brother whom I could count on, a mother who loved me, a dad who protected me, and a friend who played with me, who shared secrets with me, who also cared for me. So I couldn't help but to turn to that person, whom I trusted in my early age of eight, when my life broke down. It happened in a flash; before I knew it, my mom was leaving me behind with my father, taking my brother with her when only yesterday, we were still a happy family. The only contact I have with them is the cellphone my brother gave me. He said that whenever I needed help, or needed to talk to him, I could call, that he would always answer, and that he would always be there for  me, wherever I was, and wherever he would be. Their leave left a painful emptiness in my heart, so painful that the tears wouldn't stop falling. And on the next day, my father told me to pack my things, that we would be moving first thing tomorrow. It shook me. Why? Why was everything falling apart? I didn't understand anything from it. My family and now my home. The place I lived in ever since I came to this world, the town that was the only world I knew, the house I called home, the town I called home. And I remember, that on that day, I couldn't help but to run to my friend, the only person I could count on, the only person who could still comfort me. I said that I would be moving tomorrow, that it would probably the last time we would be seeing each other. And he told me not to worry, that he would always try to help me, that he would always pick up the phone, whenever I would call, and he gave me his phone number, on a piece of paper used for craft. And on the day after that one, I embarked in the train, to a destination unknown. It was a cold, windy October day. As I was going to get in the car to go to the train station, I turned back, to get one last look, and to say goodbye. To the place where I was born, to the place I lived in, to the people I knew, and to my small world. And in my hands, the piece of paper my friend gave me blown away by the cold wind, to a place where I could no longer reach. And my father urged my to get in the car.

I would soon figure that the phone my brother gave me didn't have service. Sure I could get it to work but they would never know my phone number since I never had one to begin with and I didn't know theirs, which would make contacting them hopeless. I still remember the nights I spend, clutched to the phone, hoping that my brother would use the serial number of the phone to get my number and contact me, and tons of other crazy wishful thinking. And I now I realized the uselessness of that object; an old flip cellphone without service. But still, why is it that I can't help myself but to write messages on it to them, messages I won't send, messages that I can't even send. Messages that would anyways be intercepted by the unsettling rain, the drops falling from above, hitting the window I was looking through, gazing at my present reality.

The sound of the door opening awoke me from my trance. My father came home early, it seems. Having nothing else to do, and nowhere to go, I lay down on my bed and let sleep invade my mind...

9

Saturday, October 5 2013

Dear diary,

today, I visited Yuu's father's domain. I say domain because he really owns a huuuuuge field of tomatoes. It extends to the mountains and is like... fifty kilometers long. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but it's really big! Turns out, Yuu's father, Mr. Koko, is the owner of a tomato producing company using his own property as a production field. My uncle was friends with Mr. Koko since first grade and now visits him once in a while to chat. While the men were doing their thing, I played with Yuu in the open field, right next to the cultivation fields and with Popo, her little puppy. We had lots of fun playing and talking about the city. Yuu is determined to live in the city when she'll be big so she kept asking questions about my lifestyle over there. I answered all her questions patiently, adding joke and hyperbole’s here and there until it was time for me to go home. It was a nice day.

When I was about to leave, I saw a man sitting on his folding chair, busy painting the scenery. He noticed me just when I was about to leave him alone. He looked pretty surprised by me and asked me if I was the newcomer here. It would seem like the artist moved into this town with his son just a few months before my arrival. He said that he goes to the same school as me. Overly familiar, he asked me to 'take care' of his son. What a strange fellow.

10

Today, it's back to school already, after a four day weekend. Same old boring routine. On lunch time, the girl sitting next to me keeps bothering me. It's been like that ever since the first day. Another routine. Surely, by the pace she is going, she could talk for days without stopping. She just speaks, and speaks, and speaks. In the past month, I learned how she ended up here for a whole year, how she helps her uncle every night, how she met this kid called “Yuu”, and how she met my dad...

-So like, I met this artist last weekend. He was painting the mountains and had this looooong barb and brown hair. Like, we started talking and then he told me to “take care of his son” for him. Haha, funny coincidence, huh? It really sounded like he was talking about you.

I couldn't help but be surprised. Was she really talking about my father? It sounded just like him. That old man, it's just like him to spend his days looking at things, painting things, and talking to strangers. If it weren't for his obsession over painting, I really wonder were I would be, right now. I stopped eating and spoke.

-So you met him.
-Huh?
-My father.
-Huh, oh... yeah! Yeah, was it really him?
-Yeah.
-...
-...
-Uh... hey! You spoke!
-I did...
-Dude. I was sure you couldn't speak or something. Guess I was wrong, haha...
-Guess you were...
-...
-...
-I'm Himiko, by the way...
-...
-...
-I'm Gregory... Hi.

I don't know what happened just now but we shook hands, as if we just met. And from that moment onwards, time flew by like the leaves flowing through the autumn breeze.

 

 

 

 

 


Part 2

1

Spring is coming. Finally. It was about time. Not that I particularly like that season but it's always better than the chilly winters. No more snow, and no more minus thirty degrees windy days. Spring is coming! Finally, warmer days ahead of me.

Winter in this small town is though because there is no city trucks to pick up the snow so with the 40 centimeters of snow usually piling up two or three weeks in, driving a car is made impossible. But then again, who even has a car in this village? Also, the cold weather is more felt by the fact that there is no reliable source of heating in this town. The heating at the train station is still done by a fireplace...! But if winter is a hard time to live through, it is nonetheless still a very beautiful time of year. When the sky is clear, I sometimes go outside and simply gaze at the natural ceiling of the world. Blue. A beautiful, beautiful blue. And when I set my eyes on the ground, all I see is white, a field of white extending to the horizon, sometimes featuring houses or footsteps, those left by humans, and sometimes, those left by wild animals. And sometimes, travelling to the plains on the way to school, I would meet Himiko, spacing out atop the small hill that gave view to the entirety of the town we lived in. That place was were I usually spent time since it was a remote place in this remote town in which nobody would venture in. I had peace and quiet over there. And ever since I got acquainted to Himiko, she would find me there, and I would find her there. Sometimes.

On a sprig day, I found my friend atop the usual hill. She was sitting, lost in her thoughts, and I soon joined her.

“Hey, she said.
-Hi.
-Bored?
-Why else would I be here.
-I guess it's only natural.
-What?
-Getting bored. Here.
-I guess.
-...
-...
-Hey Greg?
-Yes?
-You know, I think it's kinda funny. The first time I saw you, I was sure you weren't able to speak the language very well. Turns out, it's just you. Haha...
-I guess. Not as if there was much to say.
-Why? Are you always like that?
-I don't know. Am I?
-You are... You know, if there's anything you wanna talk about... I'm here...”

And on this breezy afternoon, we just sat there and talked. About our lives, our past and our future, ourselves, what we liked and what we didn't. About useless things and personal things, and everything and nothing. In this place in which there isn't much to do, a town where most people live in a total solidarity, where strangers aren't admitted, and where time seems to stand still, we got to know each other. Both rejected by the townspeople, we got together and refused to let them get the better of us. And it would seem I have really became good friends with Himiko. I don't know when, and I'm not sure how, but the time I spent with her changed me, and the number of hours I passed on the hill that overlooks the town we live in were countless. And so, the days, weeks, and months passed.

2

Saturday, April 4 2014

Dear diary,

Gregory is a very special person. Whenever I'm with him, I feel as if he is there, yet isn't. As if he was always looking at something behind the horizon, at something far far away. During the first weeks, he would often ignore me but somehow, we still became friends. Even though he lived just as much as me, I feel as if he was already so weary of life. He lived through so much and went through so many hardships. And I try my best to understand him, to somehow... 'help' him. I sometimes think back at that October day, when I was visiting Mr. Koko's domain. Gregory's father's words. Please take care of him. What about him? Is he taking care of Greg? Did he ever? I don't really know what to do. I feel lost. Dear diary, what should I do?

Today, I spoke with my uncle about my friend and he told me to just try my best. If I try my best and simply smile for him, will it help him? Don't be mistaken, I'm not pitying him. It's just that... I feel for him, in a way. Was he always that lonely? He somewhat reminds me of myself, when I first arrived here. It was painful, to be left all alone in this world so vast. Seven billion people on this small planet and yet, there are still people who are alone. Strange, isn't it? I think, if he would've lived another past, would he have had a happier present? He talked to me about his past and I felt as if I understood him a little bit more. Just a little.

3


When I was 13, I someone confessed to me once. It was on the day I was going to move. I don't remember the girl, but I remember the words.
“I like you. I know you will be moving far away, but I will always like you.”
And I don't even remember talking to her, not once. What was her name? Did we even know each other? It amazed me. How could someone tell me that they liked me without even knowing who I was? A silly thing to do.
“I will always like you.”
On that day, I will move far far away, into a place she probably doesn't even know exists. We will probably never meet again. A long distance relationship? What was her name again? I didn't understand her.

Is it because I failed to understand others that they rejected me? How do they expect me to understand them when everyone is so unique, so different from one another yet want to act the same?

When I was a boy, about eight years old, the Space Heroes were very popular at school. Every boy in my grade envied the one who possessed all seven action figures. At the time, I just wasn't into action figures and Space Heroes, but even so, the voices of the boys accusing me still echo through my head.
“Hah! You are just jealous because he has all of them and your parents won't buy you any. Come guys, let's leave that guy alone.”

I told Himiko that it wasn't the first time I visited the countryside. When I was fourteen, the boys of the farm village I lived in hated me just because I came from the city.
“You think you're so good, huh? That cocky attitude of yours, just wants to make me beat you up.”
Is it my fault that I'm better than you? No. So just leave me alone, and I won't bother you.

From all the memories of my past, why is it that only the painful ones surface?

-
During weekdays, I attend class, eat lunch, go home, and sleep. But now, the road to home is always shared with Himiko  It became some sort of habit and the hour it takes to walk to our destinations is spend by idle chatter. It's funny; I've only known her for a few months and I already feel that I really know her. How can you actually know who someone is? Not that I distrust her or anything. Oh! The never ending assails of existential questions haunting me day and night, giving me not a second of respite. Himiko calls it “that teenager phase”. Everything is so simple for her

The funny thing is, I don't think I would've even be acquainted to her if we were in another place, another town. If it weren't for the natural rejection of outsiders in this village, and the size of its population, this story probably would've never happened. To her, it was a natural thing to do, since no one else would speak to her. The only probability of friendship was perhaps with an outsider like me.
 
I made a promise to myself on the first day of this year; I told myself that I would stop questioning everything and try to trust people more. I made progress. My friend helps me too, so it's easier.

One afternoon, we met a young girl searching for her puppy. Acquainted to Himiko, Yuu was glad to see her and said hi to us with big gestures of her arms. We helped her look for her puppy but after a two hour long search, we still didn't find it. It was about the time for Yuu to go home so we accompanied her to her father's house. The sunset past since long, it was our turn to return home and Mr.Koko invited us to drive us home. Late and tired, it wasn't something I was ready to refuse.

Having no asphalt on the road, the bumpiness of the soil was felt through the entirety of the travel. It takes about thirty minutes of slow driving to get to my place and that time wasn't spent on silence. Mr.Koko wouldn't stop talking about her daughter:

“She's always playing with her puppy so for her to lose it, it's really painful y'a know? I'm really glad you helped her look for it though, but don't fuss, it's come back home.”

He told us that it wasn't the first time that Yuu “lost” the dog; it would always come back on its own at night. Then I thought: “it always come back to its home, huh? Because it has a place to return to. Because it's the only place he can return to.” It wasn't long before he dropped me off in front of my house. I thanked Mr.Koko and wished him and Himiko good night before entering home.

4

Thursday, June 5 2014

Dear diary,

today, I went to school, as usual. We have a poem composition task and we'll have to recite it in front of the class! It's not the first time I will have to present something in front of the class but it is the first time a presentation is going to be made in this classroom. I'm kinda nervous but I'm sure everything will turn out just fine. I wonder, maybe it'll actually help me to get to know my other classmates better? I think I'm gonna write something about time. Time running out, time fleeting and time rewinding. Pretty deep, huh? I'm really excited about this.

After school, Greg and I met Yuu on the road. Poor girl, she lost her puppy again. We helped her look for it but this time, without success. I could see the tears covering her eyes but I quickly comforted her and promised that we'd look for it tomorrow, but that it was time for her to go home now. After bringing her home, Mr.Koko suggested to bring us home. It wasn't something to refuse! He dropped off in front of my house, which is five minutes away from Greg's. It's been a long day but tomorrow will be a long one too, but also exciting!

5

The only possible tourist attraction would be the shrine atop the mountain that was build centuries ago. The school I go to is actually build at the foot of that mountain. A few minutes of walk and you will encounter a rocky and unwelcoming path that leads to the shrine. It takes an hour of hard work to get to it and once there, there isn't much left to do. A total waste of time if you ask me, but like last year, it's our annual school outing. It can't be helped. The annual outing is a demand from the parents and the pressure they can make here is incredible. All parents are part of a family that have lived in this village since its foundation and all have a very profound attachment to the place. The shrine we visit each year is part of their history and they will not leave it alone.

Anyways, today, first thing in the morning,  my class met at the entrance of the long road to come.

“Exciting, isn't it?” said Himiko as she saw me.

“Yes, totally”, I thought, sarcastically

One by one, we followed Mrs. Kat who lead the hike. Just like last year, the sweat started to drip fifteen minutes in. More elements to make my day unpleasant. During our ascension towards the temple, not much can be done except to save one's breath and keep advancing. The uphill walk is a hard battle and a ferocious fight against fatigue to make it to the top. Halfway through, the party took a welcomed break. After the well deserved rest, the fight continues until we finally reach destination.

Strangely, today wasn't as bad as I would've thought. Actually, it was pretty fun! What made it this way? I don't really know. It was a very tiring trip and everyone was dead tired once arrived at the shrine. Is it called comradeship? Going through this trial as a group, even though we didn't know each other, created a strange bond between us during the trip as we were all equal in front of the task. Well, maybe not for the fat guy but... OK, nevermind.

6

Friday, June 6 2014

Dear diary,

today is the day! Hiking, mountain climbing, hike walking, mountain hiking, yay! Going to visit an ancient shrine on a mountain is an activity that can't be done in the city. People say the shrine has been there for thousands of years! Yes, thousands!

The ascent was very fun. Tiring, but fun. Fun, fun, fun, tons of fun, euphorically fun. I should calm down. Yeah. I can't believe one of my dreams actually realized itself today! I've always wanted to do that when I was young. Always. Today was an awesome day.

7

Sunday, June 14 2014

Dear diary,
the time I passed in this village , I will always remember. Today, I received a call from my parents. My uncle's health is slowly deteriorating and he isn't the same person he was just a few months ago. And so, because of his health and my parent's own reasons, I will be leaving for the city at the beginning of summer. I had hoped of spending the summer here, but it would seem to be impossible for me now. I still have to tell Gregory about it. I wonder if he will be sad? Or will he miss me? With him, I never can really tell. What he is thinking, what he is really feeling. Despite the fact that I talk with him almost everyday, despite the fact that I feel that I became so close to him, I still feel him as someone far away from me and out of my reach. I still have a month left in this village. I will make sure to live every day at its fullest. And when the time comes, go back to the big city without any regrets.

8

This morning, I went to see Himiko off. Funny, at the station, there were only her, her uncle, and I, just like on the day she arrived. When she embarked on the train, she was the only one on board, just like on the day she arrived. After some final waves, the door closed and the train started to head north, gradually increasing it's speed by the second and its size gradually growing smaller until it disappeared in the horizon.

Himiko and I already made our goodbyes the previous day, not wanting to do it in front of her uncle. She's finally going home, after a long stay here. We promised to stay in contact but in this world, who knows what can happen? Turns out my father was lying after all; we are moving in a week, leaving towards another unknown location. The indeterminable factors of life will always involve themselves with my existence, and to think that I can take control over my life is but an alluring illusion. Maybe among the memories of my childhood, I could add one more happy memory? The one of my stay in this small agricultural village with nothing to do, in which the unsettling rain of fall causes everything to smell of humidity and rain and the snow piling up in winter, creating a white coat for the village. To the remote hilltop across my way to school, to the classmates that I never got to know, to the never-ending routines, farewell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Part 3

1

I open my eyes to the sunshine infiltrating my bedroom through the blinds on the window facing my bed. The ray of light blinds me momentarily and as I get up, my blurry vision guides me to the bathroom. The cold water from the tab washes away the fatigue still trying to invade me and as I dry my face with the face cloth on the ring right to the sink, my eyes meet the mirror. Cloth pressed on my mouth, I look at my reflection, at the me on the other side of the mirror. We have the same features but that person isn't me. Who is he and what is he thinking about? I will never know. Next is a walk into the kitchen. A cup of coffee to finish off the sleepiness and bread to put something in my stomach. Breakfast never takes more than ten minutes. After that, it's back in the bathroom to brush my teeth. And while my toothbrush rubs its silk on the surface of my front teeth, my eyes meet myself again. My dark eyes try to penetrate the man in front of me but without success. Why does he look so much like me? What does he want? Is he like me? Or totally different from me? I spit and gargle the water flowing through the tab to remove the toothpaste still in my mouth. I place my toothbrush back into it's container and head towards my bedroom. I put on the suit I stored in my wardrobe and while fixing my tie in front of the mirror, my eyes meet that person again. Every morning, I see that person three times and every morning, I try to figure out who the person behind the mirror is. But is he really a person? Does he even exists? I take the keys I left on the dinning table and leave. Once I step outside, I turn around and lock my door with the key I will put in my left pocket.

After riding the elevator down from the twentieth floor of the building, I arrive at the ground level. Going through the front door composed of glass, I walk ten minutes in the metropolitan city to reach the station. Sometimes, red lights make my trip longer, and sometimes, green lights make me arrive sooner. Everyday, I take the bullet train. I spend thirty minutes of my life there; five minutes of wait, ten of train ride, and the rest when I come back to my apartment.  Once I get off the train, I walk a few more minutes to arrive at my company's building at 7:45 am sharp. It takes ten more minutes to take an elevator to arrive at the fifteenth floor, where my cubicle is located. I start work at exactly 8 am and after work, I go back home to eat and sleep to rest for another day of work. I have Sundays off.

At 18, I left my father to settle in this city. On the day I moved, he didn't even say anything; he just looked at me, and watched the train depart. That was the last day I ever came in contact with him. I started off my new life in a shared apartment with two other people and took two part-time jobs to pay the even lowered rent. Aside from college and work, not much could be said of my life until my graduation from university. Working day by day to survive, I succeed because succeeding is the only mean of survival for me. I was working for a better future, without even knowing what future I wanted nor what better meant for me. And before I knew it, I was working for an insurance company. At work, I met many nice coworkers but even though we were on friendly terms, we never got to know each other very well.

It's December now. Outside, the snowflakes fall, gently and quietly, undisturbed by the activities of the city. Things are bound to change but some will never change. So even if the city changes beyond recognition, the snow will always fall, undisturbed. And on this cold December day, I am sitting by the window, looking at the city I've lived in for the past ten years. The height of the skyscrapers, the streets filled with pedestrians, the roads jammed by the traffic of all the cars heading to work at the same time, the smell in the air on rainy days and the sun drying off the rain, the countless companies established here, and the millions of people living their lives, most oblivious to their surroundings, pursuing their dreams or simply fighting to survive the day, the city so populated yet so anonymous. I gaze at the city with empty eyes and wondered: what will become of me?

When I realized that I could no longer forge ahead like I did all my life, the meaninglessness and dullness of the routine I've repeated over the past few year, the absence of a dream and objective caught up to me. When I realized that I was at my limit in all of this, I decided to quit the company. I've saved enough money to live peacefully for the next few years unemployed, but I'm looking for a job now anyways. And when I look at the world and what the world has created, I notice all the beautiful things that I've never noticed before, simple and beautiful things, like the snow falling on a tranquil day. The snowflakes, so numerous that they cannot be counted, yet so unique that they are never identical to one another makes me think of humans, who are unique in their individuality and personality that no one can affirm that they are identical, no matter how similar they are to one another.

During the days of this drifting existence, realizations of my past only depress me. I want to return home but I haven't anywhere to return to, anywhere to belong. A stranger to others and a stranger to society. Sometimes, I still remember what it was when I was with my family. My true and whole family, with my mother, and brother, and father... Those were happy moments. So what made them go away? Memories of Himiko surge up, I remember her. How she pulled me from my torments and how she helped me change. But I can't even remember her face anymore. Her, how is she doing, I wonder?

2

Saturday, December 13 2024

Dear diary,

I found you after so many years. I am leaving my home soon to marry. While I was packing my things and opening old boxes, I found you. Funny how I'm still writing in you ten years after my last entry. But this time, it's going to be my last. When I reminiscent about my past and read what I wrote previously, I remember the small countryside village in which I met Gregory. Of course, I wouldn't forget him nor the village I lived in for a whole year. Gregory, I wonder how he is doing right now? I remember how he was back then, so withdrawn and serious. But once I got to know him I actually found him as a great guy, sweet and childish. He's lived through a lot in his 17 years of life, I remember. And now, where is he, somewhere on this earth? Does he remember me?

In my box of old things, I found the poem Gregory composed for the recitation, ten years ago. When I reread it, I had a feeling that he is going in the right direction now. But who knows? I hope he is doing well and I wish him well.

Accompanied by a chilling breeze
Alone with a heart where winter freeze
Advancing in the world's darkest night
Into a place where joy lives bright
Left to myself, I walk
Long abandoned, I walk

The warmth of the past is far behind me
In that place oh how I would love to be
But I live in the present, down to earth
To my misery does it only give birth
Shadowed by darkness, I walk
Under its wings, I walk

Do brethren only betray each other?
Groom and spouse find themselves with another?
People bring about war and destruction
Where are the roots of this delusion?
Hopeless, I walk
Into darkness, I walk

A place where I belong, does it exists?
To find it I will forever persist
Countless times I fall but I will get up
I will stand up, I will never give up
Eyes filled with hope, I walk
Smile on my lips, I walk
Towards a better future, I walk
I walk

The world has changed since I was a teenager, and there exists things now that I would've never imagined existing before. Everything moves so fast nowadays and sometimes, the thoughts of the people in the mountainside village make me wonder if they will ever get used to the sound of speeding bullet trains and hooting cars. Leaving my nest make me realize how vast the world is. And to be all alone in this, it can be scary.

Dear diary, this is goodbye.

3

Soon, it will be a new year. For every New Year, people make resolutions. And my resolution this year is to make my own way in life. Not to follow the mass but to find my own path. A path I will walk alone towards a happy ending. To live happy. Positively, happily ever after.


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