Forever Love chapter 6

Chapter 6

I admit I’m not a likeable person. I’m eccentric, indifferent, mean, hypocritical. But there are still many who sincerely care about me. For example, Ouyang is worried for me from the other side of the ocean. And while I know it’s unfair to him, there’s nothing I can do.

It’s only now that both of us have recovered from Xiao’s death, that we realize we ought to go comfort the other. And only now does it occur to us, that we’re already thousands of miles apart.

I’d never made a phone call over to find him. It was also fate if I bumped into him on MSN, a few words about this, a few about that. If I didn’t meet him, I’d regularly leave a message asking how he was.

I turned into a coward that didn’t dare listen to Ouyang’s voice, as I’d felt that his voice partially belonged to Xiao’s death.

But he’s someone who shares the same memories as me. How can I just kick him out of my life?

I think the incident with my father had reminded me to cherish all those I’m indebted to.

With Xiao now dead, how can I also lose the former warmth I used to have with Ouyang?

The phone rings five or six times before someone answers. It’s the person from Shandong* from Ouyang’s dormitory, his voice surprisingly loud.

* 山東 Shangdong province, China;the narrator prob knew due to his accent

“Ouyang!” He doesn’t even take the phone away from his ear, “There’s a girl looking for you!”

The room fills with the sound of laughter, Ouyang’s voice is indistinct, ” Who? I’m busy!”

“No idea, you look at this caller ID, seems like an international call…” The phone is taken away.

Ouyang excitedly asks, “Is that you?”

“It’s me,” I say. Only two words were able to come out, before the tears come.

“How is it? Are you getting along fine?”

“Not bad….I’m good with my father.”

“That’s great!” Ouyang is obviously laughing, but I’m instead about to cry. I haven’t heard heard his voice in such a long time, I’ve never depended on him as much as I did in that moment, I so wish he can be right in front of me.

“Ouyang,” My voice is like that of a spoiled child, “What was wrong with us?”

Ouyang’s voice begins to turn somewhat nasally, “Nothing! Aren’t we now on the phone? It’s been almost half an year since I’ve heard your voice, strangely miss it.”

“And you? How are you?”

“Yeah…study is a bit intense.”

“That tooth of yours….”

“Got it fixed.”

My tears finally begin to plip plop down, my roommate hurriedly gives me a tissue and looks at me with concern.

“I’ve met a really good boy.”

“That’s great,” Ouyang says, “You like him?”

“I don’t know what type of like it is. Is it the same as liking you guys, or is it something else.”

“Is there a difference?”

“Of course! Friends are one thing, and everything else is everything else. But I don’t want to put you guys at second place ’cause of him. What about Xiao then? I shouldn’t like someone else more than I like him!”

“Stupid!” Ouyang tenderly scolds me, “Xiao wouldn’t care.”

“Well, I care!” I exclaim, “Will I forget Xiao? He used to live a life carved in our bones, etched in our hearts!*“

* 刻骨銘心 idiom; carved in bones and engraved in the heart; etched in one’s memory; unforgettable

“You need to let him go, you still have your own happiness!”

“Ouyang….”

“Xiao once told me a story….”

“Oh….”

“A fairytale,” Ouyang laughs on the other side of the phone, “A story about a little pink spider from heaven and a rose in the desert.”

As soon as I hear the words, I’ve already a guess who the two in the story are. That small pink spider! My tears cannot stop!

I cry like a child who had accidentally knocked over the bottle of soy sauce.

I’d lost the most colorful energy along with the most passionate feelings, those once-in-a-lifetime feelings of youth!

Xiao had written in his last message: You will be happy, right?

Then had he already expected that we’d eventually leave aside those grey memories of him, obtain new feelings, and continue walking down our own paths. He knew, we wouldn’t waste time due to his willfulness.

He long knew we’d forget about him.

That’s right! Even eternal love also has a point it’ll fade away, why would I still feel this pain many years from now?

“There was once a pink Spider that lived in Heaven, everyone loved him. One day he saw that the color pink didn’t exist in Heaven, so he begged God to allow him to go among the humans, to again see that beautiful red color.”

Ouyang really doesn’t have the talent for storytelling, if it isn’t that I’m currently crying with heartache, if it isn’t that there’s a strait separating us, I’ll definitely have burst out laughing.

So I listen quietly.

“He went to the desert of the Human World, and there he came across a red Rose that long grew in the desert. That was the one and only rose of its kind.”

Xiao, you’re also my one and only rose!

“The little Spider became obsessed with the rose. Although one was an arrogantly proud Rose, that depended on human blood to live, and the other an innocent Spider from Heaven that didn’t know anything, they still deeply liked the other. They agreed that the little Spider would become the Rose’s wife.”

I begin to laugh, certain that Ouyang definitely knows I’m laughing, I’m just that sure.

“Then a passerby comes along, he heartlessly takes the flower away. And so the little Spider again begged God to allow him to meet that Rose again. God arranged for them to meet in the coming life.”

“Then finally, they met. The Rose had already forgotten the promise from the previous lifetime, but the little Spider still remembered it. He was the band’s guitarist, and was relieved he could keep watch next to the drummer-cum-keyboard Rose. But, the person that’d took the flower away before, was the same as that time, and once again didn’t properly cherish him. Once he left, the Rose became very sad. And so the little Spider also became very sad. The God who liked the little Spider persuaded it to return to Heaven when it was drunk.”

I grip the phone tightly, almost already able to understand Ouyang’s meaning.

“But the little Spider began to regret the moment he returned, he looked at the Rose still in pain in the Human World, and once again begged God to let them be together again. He also promised to never leave his flower again.”

“God told him, if you want to again meet, you can only wait, can only wait until the next lifetime. And so the little Spider patiently waited in Heaven…..”

In the end, it’s simply the purchase of a person’s life.*

* the reason the story is the purchase of person’s life is b/c the payment is time, the person that wasted the time is the spider or even the rose (this little story can be dissected a million ways; if anyone wants to meditate on it, there’s three main perspectives that can be considered: the spider’s, the rose’s, and God’s) (and yes, author wrote the spider as a ‘he’, and yes, author wrote ‘wife’)

“So therefore,” Ouyang continues, “if you’ve obtained something important, please be sure to cherish it. Because it’s likely to be the little spider you’ve met in your previous life……”

I’m already at this age, but never had I ever cried like this before, as if I want to cry out all the moisture from my body.

Ouyang wants me to understand that an opportunity for happiness cannot be missed.

“Ouyang….” The tears make me unable to say anything.

“Don’t cry.” Ouyang says gently, “Don’t cry, be good, I’m over here!”

I can only vigorously nod my head.

“Come back after your vacation!” Ouyang says.

“Yes, I will. I’ll definitely come.”

“Come back with your friends.”

“Okay!” I reply, “Let’s go see Xiao again!”

.

I go look for Kaga.

He gets a scare on seeing me, it had always been him enthusiastically circling around me, so now that I actually take the initiative to find him, he of course can’t understand.

“This weekend….are you free?” I ask him, just as if opening the door to see the mountains.*

* 開門見山 idiom; open the door and see the mountain; to get right to the point

“Nothing…..ah! Yes!” He isn’t to his right senses yet.

“Yes you’ve something to do, or yes that you have time?”

“I have time! I’m free!”

I nod, “Then, can you accompany me somewhere?”

.

It’s a beautiful day, the sky is full of cirrus clouds.

The Shinkansen* from Tokyo to Yokosuka only takes a hour or so, after we leave the station, I take a quick look and see an advertisement for the Hide Museum. It’s a doll in the form of HIDE, in his style during ‘Ever Free’. It’s as cute as it can be.

* 新幹線 Japanese high speed rail; Shinkansen

I feel a pang in my heart, a tingle at my nose.

I think this is the most successful a person can be. Every little bit of him had been carefully collected and placed in a memorial hall. In the years after his death, people would always come to his memorial to mourn and remember, just as if he’d never even left.

“So you’re here to see him?” Kaga asks from behind me.

“Me, along with my friend.”

Kaga ponders for a moment, “Actually, I really like him too, it’s the truth.”

The taxi moves forward along the shoreline. The view outside is beautiful.

The sea stretches straight into the sky in a contrast of azure, the fishing boats and warships on the surface of the water thereby seem just as if they’re sinking into the ocean. I feel as if I’m also sinking to the bottom of the ocean, at ease amidst the nostalgic thoughts that surround me.

I’m certain, this place has been calling me for a long time already.

I’ve a mission, it’s necessary for me to come here for a look.

To fulfill Xiao’s dream.

The small, compact, spotlessly white main building of the Hide Museum sits just like this, next to the sea, as natural as if it’d been born there. It’s not only harmonic with the surroundings, but also new and original; distinguishing features the museum for HIDE ought to have.

I clutch tight at the bag in my arms, get off the car, and look at the memorial in the distance. The sea breeze passes between us, just like a sighing ghost.

It’s just past 11 o’clock, the first group of people has already went in, the outside is desolately empty. I see a boy at the entrance turn around, smile playfully at me, then point to the entrance.

Damn annoying! I say to him, ain’t I here already? Don’t rush me!

You always move so slow. You’ve already been in Japan for so long, and only now do you think to bring me here. Xiao shouts in defiance.

Such a nag! I glare at him, if you’ve so many opinions, then why didn’t you just come here yourself!

He shamelessly laughs.

Kaga lightly nudges me. I nod, walk over.

It’s really lively inside, but this is still a place shrouded in sad memories.

A neat courtyard, an elegant fountain, and a “LEMONed”* store painted in navy blue. The small store carries a refined yet abundant selection of products. The door is covered with pictures left by the many bands that’d came here before. I catch sight of GLAY* right away, why does he look so happy?

* LEMONed –> name of a specialty store in the museum; maybe it’s HIDE’s store (?) sry not sure
* GLAY –> a Japanese rock band

I ask Kaga, “Do you know why the members of X don’t come here?”

“Is it necessary to come?” Kaga says.

I laugh, really, what a short and precise answer.

It’s just like Xiao; neither I nor Ouyang had went to the memorial service for him at school. But it was at the memorial live his band had held for him, where we’d cried our hearts out.

Xiao was ours, we didn’t need too much formality to remember him.

In the hall, there’s a small miniature of HIDE’s life. The black sedan used in ‘Ever Free’ and the small things from his childhood are in the glass display case.

Time piles up bit by bit.

It’s like I’m back at the moment I’d first met Xiao: when he’d stood shyly under the window. It’s like I can also see the music classroom during noon, when he’d silently sat on the stairs, eyes half closed, listening to my ding ding dong dong piano. Or the terrace dyed red by dusk, where we’d shared a pair of earphones, the melody of Forever Love looping over and over again. And also, the late nights we’d take the subway back to school, amidst the rhythmic rocking and rumbling, we’d shut our eyes a bit, and two or three stops would just pass like that. And more so, that day he was buried, when Ouyang and I had stood beneath a tree far from the grave, the sunlight fell through the gaps among the leaves above us, dappling our figures as we silently looked on.

HIDE had left just as his career was approaching its peak, Xiao had also hastily ended his life on the eve of graduation.

It’s no use to be of no help.

Kaga sees something, begins to laugh. I lean over to look. It’s a picture of HIDE as a child; fat, round, indescribably cute.

“Mother Matsumoto* really knows how to raise a child.” I laugh as well.

* I’m assuming this is HIDE’s mother (?)

The sound of music is deafening in the basement, it’s full of the things that HIDE used for music production and performances. There’s also a lot of CDs and cassette tapes.

I look on, red-eyed with envy. Really, there’s so much.

The things left behind after a person’s death, are themselves full of many other meanings.

Even one extremely small button can make me remember your warmth; one side of an old-fashioned mirror, can also make me remember your smile!

The passageway on the lowermost floor is transparent, HIDE’s clothes and picks are spread on the bottom. They can be clearly seen, they’re so close to us, but that piece of reinforced glass separates us apart.

Separates life apart from death.

From the earphones installed in the passageway, HIDE’s brisk, bright and cheerful laughter irritates everyone’s tear ducts.

A part of him had been preserved by modern technology.

The part that isn’t physical.

Kaga places his hand on my shoulder. The strength is light, yet it’s my greatest support.

I turn around, smile at him: “Shall we go leave a message?”

He nods.

On the white open space on the back of the museum, the abstract ornaments are unique and color-coordinated. The long message wall is full of red letters, we practically can’t find an empty space.

The wall is more dense with messages than the guestbook is. While the rain will wash away the handwriting, that’s only proof that HIDE had already read through them. The denseness of love adds weight to the strength of the writing, letting these thoughts engrave on this soil of longing.

I would like to urge you all to listen to the song Gravity of Love by Enigma, which is about the same thing.

* a link to the song w/ lyrics (yes, author broke fourth wall here)

I already have no idea what I’d written, because it no longer matters. I stand there, watching Xiao scribbling away near the top.

You’re really making trouble! I accuse him.

He holds the pen with his mouth, steps back, looks at his own masterpiece – a Q version* pink spider playing a guitar.

* Q version = cute version = chibi version

I begin to laugh, we’ve played a joke on HIDE.

Hopefully he doesn’t mind.

“You finished?” Kaga asks.

I nod.

Therefore we leave this place via the exit, not even looking back.

No more looking back at the years and friends that have passed. Even if I’m reluctant to forget, I also ought not linger any longer.

I ask Kaga, “Is there time to go to the beach?”

He looks down at his watch, it’s already after five, it’s hard to imagine we’d stay so long at the Museum

“The beach is very close to here,” Kaga says, “The most beautiful sunset can be seen today!”

Kaga’s right, we don’t walk for long until there’s a stretch of golden yellow beach. But this place doesn’t face the West, so the sunset is to the side. The sea already is dyed fuschia, with a sort of passion that makes one dizzy.

I’d grew up inland, so I haven’t seen the sea more than a few times. But I don’t have the strength to dash forward, I just slowly walk to the edge of the water, to find a dry place to sit.

But Kaga is instead excited, and steps into the water.

“Know what? I used to come here often to play. When I was a child, I competed with the kids next door to see who could dive the longest. I almost once drowned like that! The shells, the conchs and whatnot here are especially beautiful, I loved to collect them up when I was young!”

I laugh: “Did you grow up here?”

“My family moved here from Yokohama when I was five. My father was transferred here as a branch manager, and though my mom was unwilling to leave Yokohama, she still quit her job to follow here.”

“Which Chinese province is your mother from?”

“Shanghai, but her ancestors were from Hubei.” Kaga seems to think of something, “When I was young, I went back to China with my mother to visit my grandparents, I was very young back then. They live in Wuhan.”

“Oh?” I’d spent my preschool years in that city.

“I have almost completely forgotten things from that time.” Kaga laughs.

I nod. I look down, take out that little sandalwood box from my backpack, stand up.

The evening breeze at the beach is a bit strong, so I shake my hair out and walk into the sea.

“What are you doing?” Kaga yells from behind me.

Not a death wish, in any case.

I walk until the water is just below my knees, before I stop. There are bursts of fragrance from the box in my arms, I smile at it, just as if I am looking at my own child.

Even if here’s not directly facing the setting sun, I can still feel her dazzling rays of light. Flippantly, imposingly, radiating with heat.

Xiao, are you ready? We’re about to part.

Without ceremony, without words of remembrance. I’m going to see you off.

It’s so beautiful here, you can play your beloved guitar on this beach every day.

You will be happy.

The exquisite sandalwood box follows the movement of my arm, it draws a graceful arc against the blue sky and purple dusk, into the water, splashing a red ocean spray*.

* the word spray here is both the ‘spray’ of water, and also a ‘spray’ of flowers

And then everything is once again serene.

I don’t know where the currents will take that small bit of Xiao’s ashes, but I believe Xiao will stay here. Here, there’s the person he admired the most; Xiao can accompany him, play the guitar with him, and watch the gorgeous sunset just on the surface of the sea.

I see him for the last time, between the waves. With the same appearance he had when we first met; the white shirt, the loosened neck tie, the sweat after having played basketball, and that heartbreaking smile.

Are you leaving? I ask

Yes, that beautiful pair of eyes tenderly look at me.

Do you need my help for anything else?

No, there’s nothing. For this long period of time, it’s been hard on you.

What’re you talking about…..I babble.

You can come and see me!

Will I be still be able to see you again?

You don’t necessarily have to see the person. Besides, we won’t meet again.

He gazes at the border-less, endless sea.

I’ll hug you from behind, when you look at the moon at night;
I can ride the sea waves to Tokyo to secretly see you;
I can put my beautiful dreams beneath your pillow;
I can clean up your house when you aren’t there;
if you miss me, you can take out the disks I gave you and listen carefully, my sighs are in there….

The waves lap at Xiao’s thin body, it seems like he’s about to disappear.

No, not yet, I still have a lot of goodbye words to say!

But I’m only able to say one sentence: have a safe trip!*

* 你走好; two meanings; (1) be safe/safe travels, (2) wishing a peaceful passing/death; both of the meanings are said to someone else, hence the ‘you’

Xiao’s smile is still so cute: you’re finally able to let go of me!

In the end, leaving is inevitable. I helplessly look at his fading figure.

You…..you guys…..will be happy, right?

The spray of waves come one after another, each a beautiful mauve, so dazzling.

I turn around, Kaga is anxiously looking at me.

When Ouyang told me there’s a small spider, who’d been bound by fate to me in a previous lifetime, somewhere near me, I’d remembered the first time I met Kaga.

One was young, one was ignorant.

There are no traces from those years, there had just been something indistinct that’d guided me to this place, to continue that previous story.

I dig through my backpack, find that shell, and throw it to him.

“What’s this?” He takes a look at it.

“You gave it to me!”

“I don’t think this is the one I gave you, it’s not the right color.”

I begin to giggle, “Not the one you gave me just recently.”

“Then when did I give it?” Kaga looks so silly.

I tilt my head to calculate, and say, “Fifteen years ago!”

“What?”

I smile as I step through the refreshingly cool water, and slowly walk along the shoreline. The setting sun is right before my eyes, energetically glowing with radiance.

Kaga is still recalling the memories.

Take your time and think about it, though it doesn’t matter if you can’t remember it; just as long as you know that during a little girl’s loneliest, coldest moments, you had used an angelic smile and sincere heart to accompany her through that brief period of time; there was also what you’d left behind after you went away, hope!

Kaga finally shouts in surprise, faster than I’d thought: “You…..”

I don’t turn back, just continue walking. He immediately chases after me.

“Wait a minute! Is that true?”

I turn around, he stops fifteen meters away from me, looks at me intently, trying to find an answer from me.

I begin to smile.

We will be happy, right…?

—- end —-


Translator has something to say:

We, all of us, live so desperately. For the food on the table, for the obligations that we promised, for the roof over our heads, for that misty dim definition of a future. Somewhere down the line, the hand we held out, the praise that motivated us, the goal that we worked for; all of it can become chains that tie us down. So, do we let go, can we say no? And if so, when do we let go, how can we say no?

I personally loved the way Yasutomo switches between the informal Dad and the formal Father in front of his sister, the way he fishes for info from his sister, the way the narrator’s Mama turns into Mother as she grows up, the unreliable narrator and her guilt and her healing, as well as the human selfishness of the single mother, and the respect of the divorced father for his previous household. The relationships are colorful to me, because they’re all not dyed with just one emotion.

Also, I think, somewhen down the line, one just realizes that parents too don’t have a manual for life, and that all of us are measly mortals struggling on this mortal plane.

And lastly, I found this fic on the front page of jjwxc. I clicked on it, not only because I found the title familiar, but also because I wondered how a short story from so long ago, could still stand tall next to the names of Mulan Has No Elder Brother and Priest’s works. This is a rather well-written story imo, and I think it totally deserves that place on the front page.

(That’s my two cents) (I hope you all enjoyed this fic) (Such a warm, gentle fic) (Somewhat special, yet somewhat mundane) (This is also the first time I’ve ever used first person, and therefore this is one of the last few times I ever will. I’ll edit the grammar errors some more, one of these days)


Forever Love

Forever Love

Score 7.2
Status: Completed Type: Author: Released: 2003 Native Language: Chinese
That year, I lost a friend, left another friend, went away to study in Japan…..If memories would, just like this song, sing out this period of grey from the years of our youth; that would be a beautiful story.

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