As darkness crawled out from the cracks and crevasses,it filled the premises and seeped into the blue of the sky. The cooling breath of the land, slowly condensing into translucent threads of mist, swirling and coiling, flooded the depths below the plateau. Like a bird, Night opened its wings of black velvet upon the world. Calmness set in all round the place.
-Come!-said Kenzo , holding out a hand to Ren. Let’s catch some Star-Kois!
Light flashed through Ren’s eyes, watching the inviting hand. He quickly swallowed his inner turmoil and grabbed Kenzo’s hand with a playful smile.
They stepped into the night and stood there, mesmerized. The Milky Way was up in the sky in full glow and glory, bridging the gently rocking ocean of stardusted mist. Undisturbed by the city lights, stars looked bigger and brighter, shining like apples in the Tree of skies. The chorus of crickets was under toned by the the humm of the Universe. Walking closer to the rim of the plateau, the two young men sat in the grass, following with eyes wide open the turning wheel of stars. Suddenly, one of the twinkling spots began to grow in size and brightness, seemingly approaching them. As it came closer, it lit up the entire place with its blazing trail.
-A shooting star!-exclaimed both watchers.
-Make a wish! Quick!-said Kenzo.
-I did-replied Ren softly.
The star crossed in slow motion the space before them and dissolved into the cloak of darkness. The midnight wind blew through the foliage of the forest, ruffled the blades of grass and sent ripples across the sea of mist. Ren shuddered at the chilling touch of air.
-Let’s go inside-proposed Kenzo. Nights can be cold at this height.
They returned to the warmth of the cabin and Kenzo noticed that his guest was very silent and lost in thoughts. Kenzo poured some warming drink in two glasses and handed one to Ren.
-So you made a wish?-he asked with a smile playing in the corner of his mouth.
-I did……-replied the youth, turning to him. But I cannot reveal it, or it will lose it’s magical power-he said, fixing Kenzo. His intent gaze made his eyes look deeper than the night sky outside.
-Then I have to guess it-said Kenzo, stepping close and leaving his glass on the table.
He gently cupped Ren’s face in his palms, reading the depth of the dark eyes and finding the answers for all his unspoken questions.
From the passion of countless kisses , from the half whispers and sighs, from the heat of the bodily entwining, from blaze and hidden tears, the Phoenix of Love was rising victoriously, bursting to the star spotted expanse of the Universe. She was catching speed and growing in splendour with each heartbeat and with each flapping of her fiery wings, leaving a trail of sparks in the air. Tonight, she was unstoppable! Down on the planet,warmth, Ren and Kenzo were sleeping peacefully in the cabin, cuddling in each others arms.
The following days and weeks, Kenzo took out Ren to various places, spending all the possible time together, in love filled intimacy. JT drove them to remote and inciting spots where they could enjoy those moments , far from the crowd and curious eyes. To the average bystander, they looked like two buddies having fun, or maybe like a young businessman with his private secretary. Despite the romantic aura of such love in Ancient times, the two of them were fully aware that nowadays their love was not socially acceptable; at least not publicly. But the heart has nothing to do with the rules of history and it has definitely its own, unbreakable logic of choice. Whatever society might have thought, Ren and Kenzo’s love was genuine and rightful none-the-less. And they were both blossoming under its touch.
-I haven’t seen much of you brother lately, Sumiko! -said Professor Shibata, shaking his head thoughtfully one morning. He’s always out, chasing fun or travelling with his friends! I wonder when will he settle down and mature.
-Oh, don’t be upset,Father! He’s finally out of his shell and enjoying it! You know how difficult it was for him to grow up without Mother….And besides, this is his last summer vacation before finishing his studies. Let him be and you won’t be disappointed, I’m sure!
Sumiko set the table for breakfast and poured a tea for her father. He took a sip of the warm drink and sighed. Yes, he remembered those times when his young son was crawling out of bed in the middle of the night, to cuddle up and sleep on the mat at the door of their late mother’s chamber. Ren had always been a delicate, sensitive child and after his Mom’s death, he had shut down for years. It was Sumiko’s love and constant care that finally put the boy back on track.
-You are a very good daughter, Sumiko and you’re a wonderful sister!-said the father aloud. You’re right; Ren needs his time of joy and freedom. I trust your opinion.
So, when the youth expressed his wish to go on a two weeks trip to the seaside, Professor Shibata agreed.
-Enjoy your vacation, Ren! But I expect to have some serious talk with you, now that your schooling is at its end. This autumn is going to be a turning point in the future of our family.
-Thank you, Father! I will not skip my duties, you’ll see-said Ren, bowing respectfully. Despite their temperamental differences, he loved his father and didn’t want to upset him.
Kenzo has chosen a small resort on the tiny island of Kuroshima for their summer vacation. It was remote enough to offer them intimacy and it was also homely and romantic. It became the base for travels to all the other islands and it had a small, hidden shore where they could swim, walk, talk and bask in the sun without being disturbed.
-I wish this summer would last forever….-whispered Ren, lying in the sand, head leaning on Kenzo’s shoulder. Sometimes I sense a black shadow hovering above me, counting my days of happiness with you….
-Don’t say that!-replied Kenzo, turning to him and placing a reassuring kiss on his lips. I won’t let anything and anyone to come between us. I would never give up on you, Ren! Never!
He held him closer, breathing in the scent of his hair, his skin. Ren was inhabiting the depths of his heart,his blazing yet gentle touch imprinted in the walls of his soul forever.
-Let’s take a walk before sunset-proposed Kenzo,helping up his love. I bet you cannot run faster than me!
-We’ll see!- chuckled Ren, springing forward, splashing the waves.
-Cheater!- shouted Kenzo between bursts of laughter, rushing after him. Wait till I catch you!!!!
The slim and light boned Ren was quick in putting a distance between himself and his lover but Kenzo was stronger and determined to catch him. They splashed the waves rushing under their feet, they stumbled in the soft sand and ran again till Kenzo got close enough to jump forward, plaquing Ren , rolling , fighting and laughing together on the shore. He finally managed to hold him down ….and the kiss felt like summer dusk and sea salt.
-Aye! -cried out Ren, catching his breath and turning to get something from the sand. Look!-he said with a smile,opening his fist under Kenzo’s eyes.
It was a heart shaped pebble, polished by the sea in its continuous back and forth, with a small hole in the center.
-You have found my heart!-winked Kenzo-I thought I buried it safely…..
-Then I will keep it, if you don’t mind…-replied Ren, hiding the pebble in the warmth of his palm.
-I’ve never been so happy in my life…-murmured Kenzo, holding him close.
-Me neither…..-whispered Ren, leaning against him softly.
Up in the skies, the stars were twinkling in the Night’s chandelier while the sea kept rocking gently, caressing the shore.