The Two Scheherazade:The Storyteller and The Poet. Illustration

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The two Scheherazade are sitting under the Tree of Magic, where stars grow like apples on the branches….

Drawing on paper in aqua color pencils and ink gel pen. Enjoy!

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Touch the Stars. Illustration

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Touch the fabric of the Universe and stars will bounce on the tip of the waves….I Illustration drew on paper, in acrylic, ink gel pen and aqua crayons.  Enjoy!

Shooting Star. A Love Story. Ch. 14-16. The answer. Aishiteru. Itoshikute.

  1. The answer

 

  The wedding ceremony was glamorous and joyful. Sumiko and Kenzo were making a beautiful couple and  after that, everybody cheered and enjoyed the party. With a beaming Hanako by his side, Ren was calm and polite, but very much silent. Half disconnected from what was happening around him, his thoughts were drifting away. When his father announced the renewal of the engagement between Ren and Hanako and that they were due to marry next June, the youth rose to his feet with a courteous smile, bowing politely but had nothing to say.

  During the party, he danced Hanako dutifully, then taking Sumiko from the hands of her husband, took her to the dance floor.

-You are so beautiful, Sumi!-he said lovingly. Are you happy?

-Yes! How could I not be, Ren? I am very happy and I wish you to be happy, little brother. Take care of Father while we are on honeymoon,will you?

-Of course, Sumi! Enjoy your trip and don’t forget how much I love you!

She embraced him and left a loving peck on his cheek, then returned to Kenzo. The party went on till midnight, then guests and family spread to their homes, while the young couple boarded a plane and left to their two weeks trip around the world.

    The next day, Ren walked to the pond and sat on the gravel shore, waiting for his Koi friends to emerge. Light was twinkling on the ripples as the red spotted white Koi swam up to his feet. Soon, the black one followed, waiting patiently his turn. Ren split the greenery between them and fed them slowly. The black Koi looked restless, swimming up and down, like looking for someone else to come.

-He’s not coming anymore, my friend…-said quietly Ren, swallowing the lump in his throat. It’s over….

 The fish seemed to understand his words. After nudging gently his colorful mate, they began to swim back and forth, faster and faster, in a hypnotic entanglement, bending the layers of water into a swirling tail of shimmering froth. Then, with a coordinated hit of the tails, they disappeared in a  final splash of sparks and rainbow droplets, like a shooting star in the skies of the water.

  As the surface of the pond quieted down, Ren stood up.

-I see…-murmured the youth. He’s got an answer to his unvoiced question.

 

 

  1. Aishiteru

 

 Two weeks passed and Kenzo was returning with Sumiko, content with himself, but eager to see Ren. He was missing him badly. Looking for the youth at the apartment,he learned that  the tenant moved out recently but left no address. The young man was baffled. He asked around family and friends; but no one knew where Ren lived. He took a vacation, he was visiting his father, but aside from that, he had vanished into the thin air. Yes, he had spoken with Sumiko after they came back from the trip but he wasn’t returning Kenzo’s calls.

-What did he say?-asked Kenzo slightly exasperated, turning to his wife.

-He said that it was about time for him to become independent. Oh, Kenzo! Don’t be so upset! I think he needs a bit of time to sort out all these recent changes in our family life. He’ll be back when he’ll be ready. Anyway, I’ve told him about the party for our new home and that he won’t be excused-added Sumiko with a sweet smile.

-You’re right, my dear. We should give him a break. Let’s go out and take advantage of what’s left  of our vacation !

   On the other side of the town, an inconspicuous car was rolling casually in a street with neat but modest flats. He stopped near one of the buildings, waiting patiently for the arrival of a particular tenant. JT knew him well. There he was: a gracious, slender young man with dark, melancholic eyes. Kenzo’s confidence-man waited till the light turned up in the room of the apartment, then  he sent a message to his boss: “I’ve found him.”

    Two days later Kenzo was knocking on Ren’s door. The door cracked open and the youth was standing there, pale and visibly upset.

-Hello, Ren…

   The youth opened the door to let Kenzo in.

-So….you found me- he said with a sigh.

He shut the door and showed Kenzo in. The young man sat on the couch, watching his beloved as he moved around, placing two beers and some crackers on the coffee table next to him. He looked fragile, almost ethereal and the bluish shadows underlining his eyes were speaking of sleepless nights and deep inner turmoil.

-Why, Ren? Why did you move out?- Kenzo’s question broke the silence.

-Because that was a place filled with memories I had to leave behind. You should do the same, Kenzo! It’s over! It must be!-said Ren, pleadingly.

   Kenzo jumped to his feet and grabbed him.

-How could it be over when all I have in my mind is you?! I love you, Ren and I know you love me too! Look at you: you’re like a ghost since I’ve left!

-I feel like one….-said Ren and his voice cracked. Oh!…..

He buried his face in his palms, snuggling in Kenzo’s arms. “ I can help it… Aishiteru” he whispered. “Aishiteru” murmured Kenzo, kissing away his tears, easing the pain. “Aishiteru”echoed every caress that followed, each passionate kiss and intimate touch. “Aishiteru=I love you” was the name of the maelstrom of feelings that swept them away that evening, entangled, entwined, embraced….All the yearning summed up in the days of separation was bubbling up , unstoppable….

-I have to go now-said Kenzo finally, dressing up. Don’t forget to come to visit us on Sunday noon! Sumiko is cooking something special !

-I know-said Ren softly. He stood there smiling, reminding Kenzo of his first impression at the pavilion:“His beauty can put the Moon to shame.”

-Please, keep an eye on him, JT!- said Kenzo in the car. I want him to be safe and well. I count on you!

 

16.Itoshikute

 

   JT followed with increasing anxiety Ren’s movement after Kenzo’s visit. The youth made some small, odd shoppings, then spent most of Saturday in the park, sitting at the pond and feeding the Kois. He woke up early on Sunday and JT could see him through the open window pacing up and down his room. Then….nothing. No move. Silence. JT sent a quick message to Kenzo:”I think you should come here! Something doesn’t feel right.”

   Ten minutes later, they were speeding up the stairs. JT opened the door with a spare key. They found the youth in the room, lying on the floor, gasping for air. Kenzo kneeled and held him up, shouting desperately:

-Ren!!! What have you done?!

-Itoshikute…..whispered the youth. Hold me….It’s cold and it’s…getting… dark….

Kenzo squeezed him, muttering helplesly:“ Don’t leave me, itoshikute….Don’t leave me, my shooting star…..Hold on….”

But when the paramedics arrived and then took him away, Ren’s already lost consciousness. The medical team took a sample of the liquid left in the glass on the floor, hoping to find the antidote. Slumped in the rear seat of his car, Kenzo was clutching to the pile of addressed letters left on the coffee table by his beloved, while they were following at high speed the ambulance. His mind was racing from Ren’s broken image to that of Sumiko waiting at home, unaware of the unfolding tragedy. How was he going to tell her about it?! He leafed through the letters and found the one written for him. He held it for a moment in his palms, barely touching it… but he was unable to open it yet. Instead, he slipped the small envelope in a hidden pocket of his jacket. He sighed, trying to calm down. The family needed him and he wasn’t going to fail.

  Ren didn’t come back from the coma. For days, Sumiko and Kenzo kept watching him, hoping in a miracle. But there was no change for the better. Finally, Kenzo sent her home to rest and sleep, while he stayed at the hospital. Leaning back in a chair next to the bed, he was reading the diary of Ren’s mother. It explained a lot. On the last page, there was a line, written by her:”I don’t want to be saved!”. And right there, the youth has made an addition: “ I understand now, Mom! I know the feeling.” Reading it, Kenzo swallowed hard; rising his eyes, he looked at his love lying on the bed. He was visibly slipping away…Kenzo grabbed his hand, desperate to hold him back. As the new day was dawning, Ren quietly set forth to the stars, leaving behind all his loved ones in grief. After he was cremated, Kenzo took the urn of ashes up to the mountains, to that place where they were once counting stars together. He made that trip alone. Sumiko and her father were in no condition for such an endeavor.

 Once arrived to the plateau, Kenzo waited till nightfall. He left the cabin, looking for the place where once they stood together. The skies were teaming with stars and the nightwind was whispering in the grass….He stood there,holding the urn to his chest, waiting for a sign.

    The shooting star emerged from the depth of the Universe, crossing the night sky in majestic arch. It slowed down above the plateau area, waiting. Kenzo opened the lid of the urn and the nightwind slowly lifted the soft ash towards the blazing traveller…The shooting star blinked; then retook its flight, delving into the night and leaving behind a trail of sparks….

 

Shooting Star. A Love Story. Ch. 8-9. Hard times. Old secrets

  1. Hard times

 

  Ren slipped into the house, trying to avoid his father and the other guest. He couldn’t face them. Not now. He was shaking  from inside and nauseating. He reached Mom’s room, unlocked it and fell on the floor after a few steps. Cold sweat was running down his spine as he lied there, desperate to cry and desperate to hold back his tears. “ Mom! How am I going to survive this?!”-he moaned. “I wish you were here….I need you…..Mom…”. But nothing happened. Silence in the room was deafening. Ren lied there motionlessly until he heard the front door closing behind Kenzo and his uncle. He swallowed hard and gradually relaxed. He couldn’t let his family know his chagrin.

   Gathering all his strength, the youth stood up and walked to the door, when he noticed the awkward position of a painting on the wall. When he tried to fix that, a small booklet fell out from behind it. It was a diary. His mother’s diary. “Thanks, Mom!”-whispered Ren and hid the booklet in his pocket, shutting the door carefully.Half an hour later, Sumiko found him in his room, resting. She sat on the bed and ruffled his hair lovingly. She was glowing from inside.

-You like him?-asked Ren in a muffled voice. “Oh, gods!….”

-Yes!-smiled Sumiko. He’s different from how the journals were depicting him. He’s gentle and considerate, a very enjoyable company.

-He is….-agreed Ren with a small sigh.

-This means that you will accept him?-asked Sumiko, full of hope. I want so much to see you both becoming good friends! I would not give up on your love for anyone, my little brother!

  Her words ripped through Ren’s heart. He embraced Sumiko, whispering:

-You don’t have to, Sumi! I love you and I am happy for you.

He kissed  her and jumped off the bed,masking the surge of emotions.

-Tell Father that I’ll be down in a moment.  

Sumiko left happy and relieved while the youth took his cellphone and sent a message.

“Sumiko likes you. Make her happy. Ren”

  Travelling almost instantly, the message found Kenzo pacing up and down his room and having a difficult debate with his uncle.

-Is there anything you dislike about this girl?-asked uncle Seiji.

-No, no! She’s wonderful and anyone would be happy to marry her. But….I cannot commit to her.-blurted out Kenzo.

-May I ask why? Is there someone you love maybe?

Silence. Kenzo pressed his forehead to the window and shut his eyes. Anger and despair was all he could feel.

-…..and from your silence, I assume you cannot marry that person.-concluded the old man. I see. Then I must ask you, Kenzo to put aside your love interest and act responsibly towards your family and peers. Marry Sumiko Shibata and build a family of your own. You are the only hope we have for the future of our family. Please consider this, before rejecting her.

  In the silence following his words, the clicking of the message reverberated around the room. Kenzo grabbed the phone and read the row of letters dancing before his eyes: “Sumiko likes you. Make her happy. Ren.” He squeezed the cell-phone until it cracked.

-Please make the necessary arrangements with Professor Shibata. Tell him I ask his daughter in marriage.-said Kenzo, turning to his uncle.

“I’m not giving up on you, Ren. Never!”

 

  1. Old secrets

 

-I am happy that you support your sister’s marriage, Ren- said Professor Shibata contently.

He  had asked his son into his study after dinner. Now, that he got the confirmation call from Seiji Nishimura, he had one more problem left to deal with and he knew that it might prove difficult. Ren was hard to grasp, despite his mild appearance.  

-Sumiko will be well cared of by her future husband and his family-he continued. She deserves that. One cannot wish for a better daughter than her. Now, it’s time to talk about your future!

-Yes, Father…replied Ren, muffling a sigh.

The Professor opened the drawer of his desk and took out a carefully rolled document and slowly unfolded it, handing it to his son.

– The time you were born, the Ikeda family was blessed with a little girl, Hanako. Our families were very close and we have decided then to unite them by engaging the two of you at birth. We’ve decided to share the news now because you are both of age and you are also finishing your studies. Ikeda-san and I, we agreed to renew officially your engagement at the time of with Sumiko’s marriage in June. What do you say about that?

  Ren took a deep breath before answering. He was on the verge of exploding but he didn’t want to hurt his father. He could see him getting more frail with each year so he was trying hard to keep his emotions under control.

-I wish you wouldn’t take such a decision in my name. I know Hanako and I have no feelings for her. I sincerely believe that she deserves a better man than I could ever be. But since you’ve already made the arrangements, I will not bring shame on your name, Father. I leave this whole matter in your hands. May I leave now?

  He stood up briskly and left , without waiting for an answer. He locked himself in his room and cursed his own existence, face buried in his pillow. When he finally calmed down, he took the secret diary and started to read, ignoring the message on his cell phone….

  Kenzo desperately tried to reach Ren after his uncle went to sleep. Though he sent a lot of messages, there was no answer.

“ Dammit, Ren! Say something!!”

No reply. The messages were lost to a connection deafened by pain. Finally, Kenzo decided to go and sleep. Tomorrow was another day and he had plans for the future. He wasn’t going to let fate drag him down.

       Sitting atop his bed, Ren was reading the diary breathlessly. It was both heartbreaking and shedding light upon certain events. The arranged marriage have had put a strain on the delicate hearted young girl that was to become Sumiko and Ren’s mother. Her confessions in the diary were speaking about her loneliness, her sense of emptiness and her efforts to repay somehow the kindness and care of her husband. She was dying with each day and only the birth of her children lifted the gloom of her life. She showered them with all her love and convinced her husband to rebuild the garden according to her plans. She wanted to create a dreamland for both her children and herself; a place to soothe her aching heart.

    Then , one day she learned about the arrangement made for her little boy’s future marriage and her world collapsed. She tried to argue with her husband but he told her that he cannot undo what was already agreed. Breaking the engagement would damage their position and ruin the future of all. There was no return! She couldn’t take that…..

“ I lived this loveless life in the hope that I could protect you and your sister from such an ordeal. I failed you both….I cannot go on with this anymore. Ainonai=Loveless. This is not life. I hope one day you’ll understand and  that you will forgive me….”

     She died two days after the last entry of the diary.

Ren slowly closed the diary, holding it in his hands, pensively. He smiled inwardly. The diary has answered his questions. He put it on the shelf and took his cell phone to read and reply to the messages.

“I’ll be at the pond.Ren”

Shooting Star. A Love Story. Ch.3 Blossoming

  1. Blossoming

 

        Feeding the Koi became a daily ritual for Kenzo. The intimacy of these moments and the magic surrounding the pair of beautiful, friendly fish eased the communication, weaving the thread of love between Kenzo and Ren. Yes, there were still questions left unanswered: despite his best convincing tactics, Ren kept refusing with a smile to say his family name or to give a hint of his home location. He always left first the park and vanished, though JT had tried a few times to follow him.

-Nothing! I’m unable to follow him successfully. He never turns back yet he seems to know I’m in his footsteps. So, at one point or another, he tricks me and disappears!-said Jun Tanaka, half annoyed, half amused. I think you should leave it on him to learn his whereabouts. It looks like he grew to your heart anyway.

-I must admit I’m completely hooked-grinned Kenzo-and you’re right. I don’t care who he is, where he comes from. I’ve never felt this way before for anyone in my life. Well, summer vacances are approaching so maybe I should invite him to my cabin in the mountains.  

-It’s a place to catch shooting stars at night-he teased his young friend the next day. Sometimes they’re almost as big as the Koi in the pond.

-Don’t tell me-laughed Ren pleasantly. I might accept your invitation and you might fall short in providing Star-Kois!

     So one Friday afternoon, Kenzo picked Ren from the park entrance and they drove towards the mountains. They left the car in the parking lot at the feet of the mountain and took their backpacks. There were a  few hours of daylight left and sometimes, the pathway was narrow and steep, so the two young men hurried to get to the top on time.

     The broadleaf forest was opening before them step by step. The sunlight, filtered through the entwining of the canopy, was falling sometimes in fine sparkling dust, sometimes puncturing the green dome in bright pencils of rays. The forest was alive with noises and bird songs, while from the carpet of grass and modest wildflowers, tiny leaf-frogs were leaping aside from time to time. Then the pathway climbed higher, in a steeper manner, requiring more attention. Here, deers were walking in close knit groups, generating small rock-slides through the forest. Kenzo lead the way but sometimes Ren sprung upwards, taking his place. Inside Nature’s open arms, the youth opened all of a sudden, like a flight thirsty bird. Kenzo watched him lovingly and in amazement. For him, Ren was nothing short of a beautiful young spirit of Nature. Though he has never been there before, he fitted so gracefully in this place! Still, it was a dangerous place and Kenzo took no risks. He caught up with Ren just in time.

    With a loud thud, a chunk of rock dislodged from up high and was rolling towards them! Kenzo grabbed Ren and held him close as the bulge of rock was speeding down, followed by a cascading stream of dirt, leaves and uprooted plants. For a fraction of a moment, he closed his eyes, inhaling Ren’s scent, feeling his heartbeat in his protecting palm.

-Phew! This was close! -breathed out the youth, unfolding from Kenzo’s arms. Thanks! You saved my life.

– Well, we’d better hurry up before another murderous forest spirit brings down the whole mountain!-chuckled Kenzo. We’re almost there!

   The forest ended abruptly and the perspective opened to a rocky plateau. The neat log cabin was built in a grassy spot, closer to the forest. There was even a small freshwater source, running through the high grass and disappearing in the forest behind. Before them, the horizon opened wide, high above the forest expanse below.

-Wow! -Ren’s eyes opened in amazement. It feels like we’re on the top of the world!

-Wait until the night falls!-said Kenzo. That’s when the stars swim in…-he added with a wink. Let’s unpack and eat something. Climbing here is a true appetizer!

    They quickly unpacked and Ren took hold of the cooking. He playfully teased Kenzo all the way round for his lack of skills in the kitchen, but the result was a very enjoyable meal in a lighthearted atmosphere.