By Yuri Nigasa

Now, the dream-like phantom
Is inside my memories as
The looks of that time have faded...


Days to weeks to months to years... How long since I sat here with you? Now, at the heavy black wrought-iron table, coffee long forgotten, I'm accompanied by only my fading memories. If I stare long enough I can see you there, the pale blue of your eyes speaking volumes in a language only I could hear. I reach out to bring you closer and the reality of my touch dispels the illusion and I am alone again.

How was I to know then what I know now? That time is fleeting, emotion precariously balanced in its grasp? It only took an instant, a word no sooner spoken then regretted. In that moment I saw you die inside and every beautiful thing in you with it. You stood and looked down at me and that gaze was forever frozen. As cold and impassive as it had once been warm and inviting. I died with you, victim of my own stupidity. I was too proud to call you back as you turned.

Too proud to beg.

Too proud to plead.

Too proud to cry.

Now, tears slip unheeded down my cheeks. One for every day of regret that has passed since you left me. One for every night alone. One for every time I've cried your name.

The wind blows and it carries the scent of flowers to me. Beautiful, fragile blossoms. You would reach out and pluck them, bruising the delicate petals in your hand. I could always smell them on your fingertips when you would reach out and caress my cheek, the heady scent as intoxicating as your kisses. Now I know how they felt when you crushed them.

I close my eyes and if I concentrate I can hear you approach behind me, feel your hands slip over my eyes, the heat of your body on my back, the silken touch of your lips on my ear. I would always leave early to meet you, just so you would do that. Such innocence in you, in me. Such innocence lost.

Do you ever come here, or is it still too painful? The loss and heartache are all that I have left of you. I hold on to them, though the broken shards dig deep in my soul. I carry them in the vain hope that one day they will be whole again. That I will be whole again. Angel, angel. Ethereal beauty and I held it in my arms. I cried its name in the depths of passion. That one suspended instant when through you I touched the very heart of paradise. When locked in your embrace, your flesh slick against mine, our cries entwined in desperate harmony, there was no beginning or end. I need your redemption, your pardon for my sin.

In the deepening twilight I search for you, as if to call you forth from the gossamer threads of shadow, as if sheer will can give substance to the ghosts of memory. Your name falls from my lips, a summons of the unconscious. I stand, defeated. I push the chair back, the sound of metal on stone an unnatural addition to the chirping of cicadas. I turn, wrapping my arms about my chest as if to secure my broken heart inside. I hang my head, heels of my boots ringing hollow as I cross the plaza.

The sound of gentle weeping knocks me from my trance. I stop beneath a lamppost. From the darkness a hand reaches for me. It touches my jaw, fingers tracing a pattern of remembrance across my skin. I turn my head, burying my face in the palm, my senses overwhelmed. I raise my hand to grasp the pale wrist, solid flesh and bone, not phantom mist. I pull gently, bringing a body into contact with mine.

It is all I can do to stand as I wrap my arms around the form. I lower my mouth to the upturned lips, tasting the salty flavor of sorrow. Breathless, I pull myself away and gaze down. In the light I watch the tears flow, melting the ice from your eyes. I reach forward and crush you to me, as you used to crush those blossoms in your hand long ago. In that embrace transgressions are forgiven, the past is granted absolution, though not a word passes between us.

As I hold you the air is filled with the scent of freesia.

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