The Night of the Rose

For days, the rosebud was preparing her great moment: the blooming. She has grown atop of a beautiful rosebush that was leaning against a solemn tree, in a peaceful corner of the vast garden. Her mother was constantly encouraging her, yet the young flower was full of doubts about her appearance.

 She had checked tens of times her silky petals, her perfect inner swirl and the little bouquet of golden stamens, ready to spread their magic dust. All looked fine and in perfect order, yet the rosebud was not ready for the next step.

-My child, you’re beautiful, believe me!-her mother told her each day. Don’t wait too long or you’ll miss the chance…Your sisters are already prepared for opening. One more day and they will overshadow you!

-Yes, Mom. I know….I will be ready, you’ll see!

  The Mother Rose sighed and shook her head; this little girl of her proved to be a peculiar one.

“Oh, well! Maybe tomorrow…”-she thought and spread her deep crimson collar of sweet scented petals. A bright colored butterfly landed gracefully on the crimson rim and seeped a pearl of dew, leaving behind a kiss.

-So what takes you so long? –asked the boisterous summer wind, playfully pinching the blushing rosebud. Your older sisters opened instantly under my touch.

-I…I’m not ready yet-whispered the rosebud, while her color turned a darker shade of red.

-Oh, you’re such a Diva!-laughed the wind and flew away, scattering a bunch of butterflies on his way.

  The rosebud suppressed a small tear and hid behind her lustrous emerald leaf.

“I’ll be ready tomorrow….tomorrow…maybe…”-she repeated the chant in her mind.

She spent the day under the cover of the leaves, waiting for the cooling night. As the sun dropped behind the high trees, the night embraced the land, filling each and every corner with velvety darkness and soft sounds. The rosebud leaned against the tree, cuddling inside the cradle of leaves and fell asleep. Floating on the waves of dreams, she felt a light touch on her face.

-Hello, beautiful!-chirped a tiny, crystal clear voice. Are you sleeping?

The rosebud woke up and turned towards the source of the voice. It was a delicate firefly, sitting in her cupped leaf, all smile and sizzling light.

-I was following you for days-said the firefly, with a bow. I have hoped that you won’t open till tonight.

The rosebud was startled.

-Why were you waiting for me? What’s so special tonight?

The firefly jumped in the air with a sudden swoosh and his glow spread around like shooting stars. He flied in complicated rolls and tumbles in the air, closing and touching with the lucent tip the rosebud. She was mesmerized and watching his flickers and shimmers, she didn’t realize that her petals were slowly uncoiling, opening one by one, gradually releasing the fresh, fruity scent held in her core. The darkness of the garden filled with radiant, glowing, twinkling, floating fireflies…Even the Moon up in the skies was hiding behind a thin veil of clouds to leave the magic of this moment unfold.

  Finally, the little firefly stopped on the leaf and looked at the rose.

-You are as beautiful as I have imagined! You are the most wonderful rose of the entire garden…

  The rose blushed and spread her crown of crimson red. The little stamens popped and the soft rain of gold dust fell like a mist on the little firefly, dressing him in a magic cloak. He rose in the air, kissed the rose and delved into the night where his family and friends were waiting for him. Up, on the top of the gripping bush, the most beautiful rose was basking in the moonlight….

 

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Autumn love

I saw you in the pile of withering leaves, squeezed between the thin, leathery crumbs of foliage. I saw your burning red plea, rising from the fragile, moist vegetal carpet, a last cry of life before this season of melancholy would end in the freezing arms of winter….

  I saw you and in a heartbeat, you were in my hands, your blazing carmine tips still warm and alive, pulsing faintly in my palms, remembering the rhythm of the tree that  had released you.

    Now, you are sleeping your eternal dream between the pages of my book. But in my heart, you are still beating softly: tadam, tadam….in a symphony of red.

The Lost Butterfly-a story of aliens, love and humans. Chapter 4. A blow from the past. Ch.4a.

Ch. 4a.

 

The man at the door was medium high, fortyish and well dressed but inconspicuous. He took off his sunglasses before he addressed to Fuyuki. He had piercing blue eyes watching intently under the strong eyebrows.

-Mr. Tanaka? May I talk to you?-he asked handing him a personal card.

The name was unknown but Fuyuki remembered the firm. It was of that man from his past. He let the man in and offered him an easy chair.

-What can I do for you?-asked Fuyuki looking at the mysterious visitor.

The secretary (he was the secretary of …the man) watched him intently.

-My master died recently.

-I’m sorry to hear that.

-Thank you. His death relieves me from certain obligations about keeping certain things secret. He never ceased to feel guilt for the way he treated you…

-That was…buried and long forgotten-said Fuyuki following the man’s account with attention.

The latter returned the attention and stared at him with undisclosed curiosity.

-It’s for the first time that I can see you from close. I have to admit that you really are attractive…I followed you while he lived because he wanted to know about your whereabouts. Now that he died I followed you for my own reasons.

Fuyuki’s eyes flickered.

-And what would be your reason?-he asked quietly.

I wanted to find a crack on your perfect image-said the guy with scorn in his voice. And I found it some time ago but I never had the heart to show it to my Master. But he’s gone and all I have is my need for revenge over you!

Fuyuki blinked, taken aback by the hatred flowing from the man; he tried to ease the tension.

-I’m sorry if I hurt your master but I never did anything on purpose. I had the feeling that he finally understood and that he came to term with all…

-He did. But it was an entire chain of unhappiness generated by your pretty face and your damned perfection. He loved you, you didn’t love him, I loved him but he had no eyes for me…

-So-said Fuyuki slightly puzzled-what do you want from me?

The man took out an envelope and handed it to him. It looked that there were some photos inside. Fuyuki took them out and watched them one by one. He turned pale and he felt sick. He raised his eyes and looked into those blue ones fixing him:

-What do you want?

-Do you agree that I caught you red handed?-he asked with malice.

-Yes and no-said Fuyuki in a restrained voice. I can’t remember anything from this even if I can identify the persons.

The man looked at him incredulously but Fuyuki seemed genuinely shocked by the photos.

-I know that you’re not a liar-agreed the man. But these shots are for real, I assure you. Well, if you don’t have any recollection of the events, you have to unravel this moment of your past and live with it. Consider it a…gift from your sworn enemy.

The man got to his feet and left the room. He silently closed the door behind him, leaving a very distraught young man behind. As the door clicked shut, Fuyuki broke out in despair. He grabbed his head with both hands, closed his eyes and franticaly searched through his memories. But his mind was silent, the doors of memory sealed and he was left only with a void filled with pain and despair. He bit his lips until they bled and curled up in bed shaking violently, moaning and crying helplessly. It took him a good deal to calm down and put himself together.

He started the computer and called Little John on cell phone. While the phone was ringing, he scanned the photos and sent them to his friend. He barely finished the sending that a deep, pleasant voice answered his call.

-Fuyuki? Is that you, my friend?

Fuyuki swallowed hard to calm down but even so, his voice came out coarse and insecure:

-Yes…Little John, open your mail. I’ve sent you something and I need you to watch it now!

Little john sensed the emergency of the call so he proceeded as instructed. He opened the attachment and…almost fell off his chair. The images were unmistakable; his deepest secret, the wild night spent with Fuyuki on the night of his bachelor party was poignantly depicted by those pictures. They had been captured with a powerful camera so the faces were clearly visible. Their passionate kissing under the starlit sky, Fuyuki lost in his arms as he carried him to the small rear room, the moment they entered and the moment he carried him out in the morning and took him home to Old John…

Little John was speechless; he could hardly utter a sound.

-Fuyuki…he whispered. Who gave you these pictures?

-A friendly…. enemy of mine. He wanted to take revenge upon me and he came to confront me with these photos…Little John, tell me why can’t I remember this?!

Little John was unable to answer; his mind was searching for a reasonable excuse but he couldn’t find one. He could clearly sense Fuyuki’s torment and he was afraid of what he might do in such a state of mind.

-Fuyuki-he pleaded in a worried voice. I’ll come and we’ll talk this over! Please, don’t do anything stupid! I’ll leave tonight and tomorrow morning I’ll be at your place. Please, Fuyuki! It’s my entire fault…

Fuyuki sighed and kept silent for a few moments. When he finally spoke, his voice was broken:

-I’ll wait for you but you have to restore my memory no matter how painful that would be. I can’t take anymore lies about my life…Please, ask Soraya to forgive me for taking you away right now; but I need help. Good day, Little John. Take care!

-You to, my friend. Wait for me-said Little John and hung up. He deleted the photos and hurried to pack up for and early plane.

Soraya was worried about Fuyuki; she urged her husband to leave at once. Little John felt like a cheater that moment; his stupid and selfish actions from his past were getting back on all those he loved and cherished.

Fuyuki disposed of the photos but kept them on the computer. He did his best in behaving normally. He told Yoshiasu that Little John was coming to visit them the next day; Yoshiasu had a small, nagging feeling that Fuyuki was troubled by something but he was too tired to dig deeply. All he could do is to hold him closely and reassuringly.

Little John arrived early and found Fuyuki waiting for him. They embraced and he watched his friend closer; clouded by inner turmoil, Fuyuki’s eyes were almost black. He looked tired and subdued. He moved around like a sleepwalker, unable to find his balance. He had already made some coffee so he handed a mug to Little John; they sat in the living, around the small table, silently, unable to start to speak about what was bothering both of them.

Fuyuki stood up, slowly pacing up and down, fingers clutched to his mug; Little John watched him for a while then he set his mug on the table.

-Fuyuki…Fuyuki, my friend…Forgive me; it’s entirely my fault!

At the sound of his voice the young artist shuddered and almost dropped his mug.

-Why? Why can’t I remember?! What have I done?!-his voice trailed. He buried his face into his palms, shaking his head…

Little John wished he could comfort him but he was afraid to touch him; he came close, talking in a warm, soft voice.

-Fuyuki, you were made to forget in order to protect you from the burden of this memory.

When I came to Old John to invite you to the bachelor party, you were reluctant. Old John took me aside and warned me: “Be careful; he is your friend and he loves you. Take care of him; he’s more vulnerable than he looks. Don’t take advantage on him!”

I easily dismissed his concerns; I was overconfident. Then you came and I fell apart. Old John gave you some sleeping potion and used a spell to block your memories. He wanted to protect you…from me. You wanted to help me get over my obsession for you and follow the proper path for me. You generously gave up all and selfishly I took all! My madness was finally cured but you were deeply scarred. That’s why Old John decided to lock up those memories.

Fuyuki my friend, I would do anything to bring back your peace of mind! I am ashamed and I admit that I badly screwed up all!

Fuyuki listened quietly Little John’s confession; his suppressed memories slowly seeped back in his consciousness.

-Oh, gods!-he whispered. What have I done?

He staggered…he then grabbed his coat and his keys and stopped for a moment, looking into Little John’s puzzled face. He sighed…then he shook his head.

-I’m sorry…I have to go out…I need some air…Yoshiasu-his voice broke-he’ll be here; wait for him, please! Tell him that…that…I love him!

Before Little John could even protest, Fuyuki fled without telling where he was going. Fearing the worst, Little John sent a message to Yoshiasu; there was no way back.

“Yoshiasu, we have a problem; Fuyuki left but I don’t know where he went. Come home quickly; you’ll find me here!”

The Lost Butterfly-a story of aliens, love and humans. Chapter 3d.

The following days and weeks proved to be busy enough to keep everybody’s mind set on the task. Little John worked on his relationship with Soraya while Fuyuki spent most of his time collecting plants and roots with Old John. His worries eased, he could focus entirely on his own goals. He has learned a lot from his venerable host and protector. He took up again his artworks and whenever he had time, he took a horse and visited several artisans to watch them working and to talk about their craftsmanship.

Fuyuki fit easily into the community due to his pleasant personality and charm. He also met Soraya and they got well together even from the beginning; she was a nice girl, totally in love with Little John. Fuyuki couldn’t be happier for his younger friend; it looked that he has finally decided to give away his heart. For the first time in weeks, they talked leisurely, uninhibited like nothing happened before. As days were almost entirely filled with events, keeping him locked on the subject, the evenings and the nights were testing hard Fuyuki.

He made a habit of walking out and staying for hours under the starlit skies, thinking about Yoshiasu. He missed him so much that it hurt him physically. He used to cuddle up in the deep grass and cry for hours like a lost and abandoned child. Old John knew about his torment but he could not ease it. He just hoped that Yoshiasu might come back in time, before anything irreparable happens. A slight sadness was slowly enveloping the sensitive young artist, making him more vulnerable. Though he kept his hurt carefully hidden, it followed him like an invisible cloud.

Little John’s wedding was scheduled for mid-October so both the youth and their families were busy with the organizing. It seemed that the young man matured quickly to meet all the requests put up by his new life. Fuyuki discreetly stepped aside from his friend’s life not wanting to disturb the events. Yet Little John always kept an eye on him; he sensed that Fuyuki was crumbling from inside. He wished to comfort him but he was afraid that it would end in disaster. Despite his oncoming happiness, Fuyuki’s magic was still a powerful magnet for him, carefully hidden but quietly smoldering like the fire hidden under the ashes.

October descended over the land, painting the surroundings with shades of crimson and gold. The autumn sky with its crude blue gave an even more powerful background to that bright flow of colors. The days were still pleasantly warm and the nights were clear and crisp.

Two days before the wedding the friends of the groom and the bride decided to throw (each of them) a bachelor party. They were all in high spirits. Little John came to invite Fuyuki to join the party. Fuyuki was surprised and somehow at loss; he wasn’t a bachelor and the boys were all younger than him. He didn’t know how he would fit into such a place. But looking at Little John’s bright and happy face he just couldn’t refuse him. Later, he turned to Old John for advice.

-You are his best friend, you have to be there-said the old man thoughtfully. I understand your concerns but I’m sure that you’ll make the best decisions. Anyway if something bothersome happens, just drink this. It’ll help you out.

Fuyuki took the small bottle and thanked him. When the sun dropped behind the horizon, Fuyuki left his horse at the stable and entered Little John’s house.

The party went on cheerfully and noisily and foolishly as ever when so many young guys are involved, drink, food and music included! The boys were slightly disappointed since they couldn’t get Fuyuki drunk; he politely declined the alcohol and stuck to non-alcoholic drinks. He didn’t want to dress up in girl clothes to trick Little John though all the boys agreed that Fuyuki was fittingly beautiful. Fuyuki chuckled and said he has tried once and that was enough experience for his entire life.

Everybody wanted to hear the story so they kept on nagging him until Fuyuki gave them a humorous recount of his dressing up in kimono.  They all laughed with tears and greatly enjoyed Fuyuki’s company. Little John watched quietly as the air sparked around his friend. He watched intently the photo Fuyuki had on his phone showing him dressed in kimono. Weren’t those unmistakable deep-amethyst eyes, neither him, nor the other boys would’ve believed that the girl in the photo wasn’t genuine.  They all made great fun of it and of themselves…The spirits rose higher and higher around! After midnight some of the guests fell asleep and were carried to some rooms; others were still holding erect and having the time of their lives…

Little John called Fuyuki  to get out; they both needed the fresh air. They found a quiet and remote spot and sat on the grass, watching the moon rising higher and higher. A cold breeze rustled through the thinning foliage and the fading grass, making Fuyuki shiver. A strand of hair fell on his face and he pushed it away; as he looked up he found Little John gazing at him intently.

Before anything could have been said, he found himself on his back in the grass with Little John over him, kissing him passionately. Fuyuki moaned “Oh, gods! Yoshiasu…Yoshiasu…” Little John pressed his lips against his; trembling Fuyuki closed his eyes and gave up any resistance.  As they caught some breath, Fuyuki pleaded:

-Little John…please…you know I can’t resist you…please…his voice was soft and emotional.

Little John lift him up and carried him into a small bedroom of the house, far from the happy crowd. He placed Fuyuki on the bed and locked the door; like the water rushing over a broken dam, all the restrained, hidden emotions built up inside both of them burst out and swept them entirely. Little John undressed Fuyuki and they made love over and over again till exhaustion. As Fuyuki’s moans and cries subsided and the darkness of the night faded away, Little John became more frustrated and restless. He desperately squeezed Fuyuki while his voice broke:

-Why?! Why has this to end like this?!

-Because this is the right thing to do-murmured Fuyuki. We are like two comets incidentally colliding; each of us has its own orbit. We don’t belong to each other. All we have is this unhappily messed up friendship, but still it’s more than nothing…

-Can’t you love ME?-cried out Little John painfully.

-Please, don’t make it harder than already is. I have given you all that were mine. Don’t ask for more. I’m sure that if we’ll ever meet in another life, we could be an item…

Fuyuki stood up and took the small bottle; he drank it out quickly. Little John watched him worriedly.

-What was that?-he asked. Fuyuki what are you doing?!

-It’s my…salvation-whispered Fuyuki. Old John gave it to me. Please- he said and his voice trailed. Could you take me home now? Please…

He was slowly drifting away; he was exhausted, body and soul. His eyes were closing and he was barely conscious now. He whispered:

-I’m…sorry…

His breath became even and shallow. The potion was already affecting him. He fell into a deep sleep. Little John watched him for a few moments: the lovely face, the trembling eyelashes closing over starlit eyes, the delicate curve of the neck, the slender body resting peacefully…He dressed him up quickly and took him in his arms, carrying him out. The morning was breaking above the ragged rim of the mountains. Little John took his horse and holding close the sleeping Fuyuki he proceeded towards Old John’s hogan. The old man was already waiting outside. They carried Fuyuki inside and laid him down. Old John covered him with a blanket, touched his forehead and whispered a few words. He let the young man sleep and took Little John out.

-Go home now and sleep it over. You have your own duties to fulfill. Act like a man and make us proud.

Little John opened his mouth to say something but he just couldn’t; he swallowed hard.

-Don’t worry; I’ll take care of him. I’ll mend what you, foolish youth have broken. Come back later but only when you are ready. This is a brand new day and a new beginning; walk proudly on your way! There’s no room for more mistakes.

The young man jumped on his horse and quickly departed.  Tears built up in his eyes and he cried in the chilling morning wind. By the time he arrived home he was calm and composed; his carefree childhood ended abruptly. There were people counting on him; he wouldn’t want to let them down. Fuyuki cured him from his maddening obsession; he owed it to him beyond words…

The wedding went on cheerfully; Fuyuki couldn’t attend. Old John kept him in a deep sleep while he struggled with a high fever and mostly delirious state. The old man watched him closely; he made some incantations from time to time, gave him to drink special liquor and soothed him when he cried out in his sleep, tormented by heartbreak and nightmares.

Little John came the fourth day, completely changed. He was another man; he was calm and settled. He waited for Old John to come out, greeted him with deep respect and handed him a present from his new family. They talked about the wedding a little then he asked about Fuyuki.

-How is he?

-He’ll be fine. He’s still sleeping.

-Grandfather…Little John’s voice was serious. Why can’t I forget?

-The spell was put to protect only the innocent-him. You should remember, you owe him that. He has given up everything for you. You are a man now, you have to take responsibility for your deeds.

-I know-he sighed. I’m worried about him.

The old man gave a nod.

-So you should; he is your best friend. You can go inside now; he’s awakening. He remembers nothing but be careful. It is your turn to protect him. One more thing; tell me, are you happy with your current choice?

-I couldn’t be happier, Grandfather-answered Little John. It’s just that I keep wondering what was all this: some kind of madness? I can’t think it was; Fuyuki really is an unparalleled person who touched my life.

The old man smiled slightly.

-It wasn’t madness; it’s just life with its peculiar sense of humor. You were so eager and restless that you’ve opened two doors at the same time. You wanted both of them so when it came to choose, your friend gave up himself to quench your thirst and put you back on your track.

-Thank you-murmured Little John. I thought the same but I needed your wisdom to clear it.

He stepped inside and watched his friend slowly awakening. Though he looked a shade paler than usual and thinner, Fuyuki smiled when he saw him. He laughed softly:

-You see? I’ve told you that drinks and bachelor parties were not my specialty. I’m sorry that I missed your wedding. I have something for Soraya.

He took out a small silk pouch and opened it. There was a beautiful butterfly on a delicate silver necklace. It was handmade by Fuyuki special for this event; Little John was touched. He helped up his friend and embraced him affectionately. During the following days Fuyuki recovered completely; Little John brought Soraya to the hogan and they spent some pleasant days together. She once said, on their way home:

-You know, I was wondering. Your friend Fuyuki is so beautiful that were he a girl, I wouldn’t had a chance to make you even notice me.

-You’re probably right-chuckled the young husband and kissed her lovingly.

( “Almost”-said a small voice in his head; he grinned and dismissed the thought.)

Two days later Yoshiasu arrived unexpectedly; he had finished his assignment two month earlier. Leaving Fuyuki behind for such a long time proved to be more than expected even for him. The same sense of loss gave him the necessary boost to finish his part of the task. Fuyuki fled into his arms; with his love around he regained his sense and balance. He became the same radiant young man they all loved and admired. Old John was even happier to see his protégé back to his old self; the pain and torment were forgotten; only the magic and the mystery of his inner self deepened around his unspoiled beauty.

Yoshiasu and Fuyuki spent the remaining two month on the spot; they’ve helped Old John relocate his belongings to his winter residence. They worked with the community on educational programs and arts. They kept close with Little John and his new family. They indulged themselves with as much nature as they could and it was Fuyuki’s turn to teach Yoshiasu to ride much to Little John’s amusement. They even established a riding school for children and adults and Yoshiasu created a special page on the internet about them.

The two returned to the city after Christmas to spend the New Year’s Eve with their friends from there.

“This was close-said the first one. We almost lost him…The old man saved us with his unexpected knowledge!

“I’m sorry-said the second one. I’ve promised I’d be careful but this turn of the events took me by surprise…That young man gave such a strong push on the cycles that he unbalanced everything we’ve so carefully planned!

“You cannot mess with humans! I’ve told you, some of them are quite unpredictable…So is this young guy. You’ll see, he’ll create us some more problems in the future. And since the Child is affected to…we have to be careful!

“I’m …sorry. Help me; this Child is a real handful.”

They stood silent and preoccupied. They still had a lot of work to do and things were slipping out of their hands.

The Lost Butterfly-a story of aliens, love and humans. In the mountains. Ch. 3c

Ch.3c

Fuyuki’s presentiment proved to be right; Yoshiasu got a very important assignment on the capital city.  Accepting it  meant also that he had to leave Fuyuki behind all alone for six month. He suggested him to move to his sister during that half of a year; but Fuyuki wasn’t keen on it. He didn’t want to intrude in her life and he wasn’t a child to be pampered. Not anymore. He told Yoshiasu that he’d rather be back at Old John’s hogan.  The beauty of that place and the old man’s wise and comforting company was something that he needed.It was also à magical place to create art. So they’ve sent a message, asking the venerable man if he thought he could put up with Fuyuki while Yoshiasu is out of town. The answer was…yes.

When time came, Fuyuki accompanied his love to the airport; he stood there heartbroken until the plane took off ; then he returned home and packed up for his own trip. The next day, he stopped at the station, looking for Little John who was supposed to meet him. It was still early in the morning and the air was cold and refreshing. Fuyuki left his luggage on the ground and hopped atop of a beam and looked around.

The door of the post office across the road opened and Little John came out, followed by a pretty girl. She was talking excitedly to him and her big black eyes were sparkling like diamonds. She obviously liked him and enjoyed his company. Little John was basking in her radiant attention and his interest towards her was showing in the look of his eyes. The two of them looked wonderful and refreshing together.

Fuyuki smiled and decided to remain silent. He didn’t want to intrude. After a while, the young couple parted; she went back to the office and Little John looked casually around. He suddenly spotted Fuyuki watching him smiling and he turned red. He quickly crossed the road to meet his friend.

-Hi!-said Fuyuki chuckling at his friend’s embarrassment. I’ve told you I’ll be back sooner than expected.

They hugged and Little John took some of the luggage.

-It seems to me that you got yourself a beautiful girlfriend…said Fuyuki.

-Uhm…She’s not my girlfriend…We’re just childhood friends…-muttered Little John unconvincingly.

-She’s lovely anyway-concluded Fuyuki. And it looks that she has a real interest in you; she looked radiant while she was talking to you.

Little John mumbled something but he wasn’t keen to admit his own interest into that girl. Now that Fuyuki was here, his attention flipped entirely into his direction. They went to his house, packed the luggage on a mule and Little John took Fuyuki on his horse. For the young artist it was the first time to ride a horse, so he felt a little funny about it. Fortunately Little John was sitting at his back, holding him firmly with one hand around his waist, the other hand leading the horse on the way. Unable to keep his balance properly, Fuyuki leaned against his friend, the rebellious black strands tickling his face. As they were talking and laughing on their way, Little John wondered about how soothing Fuyuki’s voice was, how soft his laughter and that, oddly enough, his skin had a strange fragrance of…wild flowers. He shook off the thoughts; Fuyuki was his friend. Period.

They arrived safely to Old John; he was already waiting for them. He was pleased to see how well those two were getting together. But he warned them that he wasn’t going to pamper them; they would have to help him out with the hardship of work around the house. The boys laughed that off and they were more than pleased to help. Fuyuki planned to learn more about herbs and cures from Old John. He also wanted to exchange some knowledge with the locals about crafts and arts. On the other hand Little John promised to teach him to ride a horse so they could travel more around.

The riding lessons proved to be extremely funny. Fuyuki was the first to laugh with tears about his own clumsiness. From time to time Little John had to rescue him before getting more seriously hurt. They fell several times one atop the other, chuckling and panting, limbs tangled…Fuyuki’s amethyst eyes sparkled with fun as he was lying on back next to his younger friend. His pearly-white teeth shone as he smiled, his face lightly tanned by the summer sun. His hair has grown a little longer and was tied up in a small ponytail. Usually he was half naked just like his friend, the supple muscles moving with ease and grace under the smooth skin. The hard work and natural life made him stronger and more athletic.

Even his features got manlier, clearly cut and he built up a new confidence. Yet his mild and soft inner side was seeping through the outer walls of his person, trailing around him like an invisible halo.

It was this inner side magic that took Little John always by surprise; he wasn’t able to clearly capture the sense of this duality. He was also at loss with his own short moments of embarrassment when he found himself holding Fuyuki a little bit closer or a little bit longer than usually. Luckily the latter seemed oblivious to his friend’s awkward moments. It was a dangerous game because the more embarrassed he felt, the more he longed for another chance.

At the same time his other half of mind was set on Soraya, the girl at the station. Since that day when his eyes caught her image standing out from the amorphous crowd of uninteresting faces moving around him, Little John enjoyed her attention and her company. He diligently shared his personal time between his friend and his …girlfriend.

Old John watched him closely as the inner world of the young man was bursting out with new emotions and loads of excitement. He knew that there were many confusing feelings mingling in his heart. There were many wishes storming in and out and Little John was ready to try all of them uninhibitedly. He knew nothing about the risks involved and he was too cocky to think about precautions. Like a child, he wanted all the stars from the sky. The uncharted world of feelings was opening before Little John’s avidly curious eyes.

-Thread carefully!- warned him the old man. You might trample on somebody’s feelings!

The youth looked at him questioningly.

-Why do you say that?

-You are driven by many wishes; somebody might end up hurt, you included.

But just before Little John could say anything in his own defense, Fuyuki came out, ready to leave with him. They took the horses and left for a swim in a large lake known by Little John.

The large expanse of water shone under the sun like covered in shining gold leaves, the small ripples gently washing the sandy shore. Further there was another rippling expanse of high grass spotted with colorful flowers so they left the horses to graze at will.

The youths quickly undressed and splashed into the water; it was crystal clear and pleasantly cooling. Since they were good swimmers they fully enjoyed the water. They raced; they fooled around and had fun.

Fuyuki was the first to come out from the water and lay down in the fragrant layer of grass. Little John came after a while and splashed cold water on his friend taking him by surprise. Fuyuki moved quickly and cut him off his legs. Little John fell backwards but fought back. It was the kind of wrestling widely enjoyed by youth, a kind of friendly teasing and showing off.

They fell back on the grass breathless. Little John watched Fuyuki from the corner of his eyes; his friend was slightly flushed but his eyes were sparkling. Sensing the gaze fixed upon him he turned his face towards Little John and watched him silently; the dark-brown eyes were returning the look intently. Little John swallowed hard and Fuyuki’s lavender eyes clouded. Then Little John quickly bent over him and kissed him until Fuyuki’s resistance broke and he gave in trembling.

Breathless, they parted flushed and confused. Little John gritted his teeth in frustration but turned when he heard Fuyuki’s first sobs. The young artist jumped to his feet and ran away until he fell over a mold of dirt and grass. He stood there, face buried in his arms, sobbing bitterly. Little John fled after him. He caught up with Fuyuki and sat next to him. He was taken aback by the intensity of his friend’s pain.

-I’m…I’m sorry-he finally said in a low voice. I never meant to hurt you. You are disturbingly beautiful and I am…I am confused.

Fuyuki sighed and turned to him.

-I know-he whispered. I am sorry; I am more disturbed than anybody else. I keep on hurting people without wanting it. It’s like a curse…

Little John shook his head.

-Don’t worry, I am not hurt. You are my friend and I won’t give up on that. I try hard to understand both you and myself. Forget this, please. I was…pretty stupid. Let’s go back to the river. We still have time to catch some fish for Old John.

He took Fuyuki by the hand and helped him up. They strolled back to their horses.

-You’re happy with Yoshiasu, aren’t you?-he asked casually.

-I love him and I miss him every day-came the honest answer.

-He’s a lucky guy- murmured Little John for himself.

They went back to the river and found a proper spot for a catch. Fuyuki watched admiringly as the athletic young man cornered the elusive fish and caught them one by one. He moved with the grace and the ease of a young god of Nature, skillfully and graceful. The whole scene was like a moment of Paradise captured in time. When they finally turned home they weren’t empty handed.

Old John sensed the subtle change in chemistry between the two youth but said nothing.

In the evening, as they lay down to sleep Fuyuki recalled the incident; he shivered and turned on his belly, head buried in his arms. He felt confused and scared; he was vulnerable; not having Yoshiasu beside him for such a long time left him slightly unbalanced. He liked and he cared about Little John; it was almost an instant bond but it brought up unexpected challenges. Little John himself was struggling with confusing emotions and Fuyuki was afraid that pushing him away would only deepen his obsession.

On the other hand he found disturbing that it wasn’t so hard for him to give in to his friend’s pressure. Fuyuki was torn apart and totally at loss. He sighed deeply and curled up in despair.

-You’re confused, aren’t you?-asked Old John in an attempt to help Fuyuki open up.

-You knew…

-I saw it coming the day the two of you met. You were the first person little John really noticed until then. Your charm was too obvious even for a careless, self-centered young guy like him. He fell back on the earth and hit the ground hard.

Fuyuki shook his head.

-I’m nothing but trouble…his voice was sad.

-Weren’t you to shake up him from that self-absorbed state, he wouldn’t have noticed that girl at the office. They are about to be engaged and she is a proper match for him.

-Then why is he doing this?!!!-burst Fuyuki out.

-You’re both driven to each other from inside. You for instance, you have built up a sense of loss because you miss your pair. You married your first love, isn’t it?

-Yes. All I knew before him was use and abuse…Now I found myself totally defenseless, taken away by unexpected, unknown emotions.

-The logic of the heart can be very tricky at times of vulnerability. A butterfly can easily burn his wings around those flames. But unlike Little John, you’re wiser and considerate. You are his best friend. Don’t get upset; I’m here for both of you. Get some sleep now, young butterfly. Good night.

-Good night-whispered Fuyuki. Thank you.

He closed his eyes and he felt relieved; he soon fell asleep.

To eat or what to eat, that is the question…

Leafing through my collection of articles about Nature, I’ve stumbled upon one concerning the way plants communicate between each-other. If there is a part of the living world underrated and overlooked, then the Vegetal kingdom surely is. That we share no great interest, respect and consideration towards it comes probably from our closer connection to our next to kin, the animals.

    There is a trendy and heated debate nowadays between meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans. I’ve read over the years a lot of mind-blowing stupidities used as arguments and I have witnessed mindless rage and hatred, lack of understanding, of mutual respect in the clashes over this topic: what should we eat?

“ I will not put dead animals in my mouth!” -shouted some people. Really? I hope you are not putting living ones either; I don’t find that a better option. So, if you don’t want to get animals killed in order to feed yourself, then the only feasible solution (for now) is to eat plants,fruits, vegetables.

  Well, my dear fellow human, plants are living organisms too. When you cut them down, they die. They might not bleed with shocking red blood, but they die. We don’t even know how it feels for them to die. They might not scream, they might not run away (they can’t), you might not witness the light going out in their moist eyes…but they die anyway. Silently. Or perhaps not. We don’t know yet. And when you eat plants, vegetables, fruits picked, plucked, cut off from their stems/branches, you eat dead organisms. They die and start decomposing the moment they’ve lost contact with their feeding roots. So if you don’t want dead animals in your mouth, you can have dead plants instead.

“ But plants are not our next to kin!” -you would argue. Seriously? As far as science is concerned, living organism split in two evolutionary directions, plants and animals at one point in time; but till then, life came a long way as one.

   We came to learn about the intricacy of plants life in recent years and from what I’ve read till now, it’s no less intriguing, amazing, awesome than animal life. I’m certain that we’re in for big surprises in this area of scientific research. So what can we do now? Should we give up on eating animals and plants too? That would be an utterly stupid decision.

   We, as humans, we belong to the Animal kingdom and we are, by our nature, meat and vegetable eaters. Just like most of other animals, we feed on other living organisms in order to live, grow, thrive, survive. We cannot change that, not for now and not without radically changing, or even giving up on what we are. So maybe we should accept ourselves and re-learn how to respect all that keeps us alive, animals and plants. In the best manner of our evolving humanity, we should humble before their unwilling sacrifice and try at least to make it less brutal.

Maybe we should remember the way people like the First Nation used to honor the animals they hunted, honored the plants they grew  or gathered from Nature.

  Maybe, just maybe, one day we’ll become so changed that we could take the necessary energy to live  the way plants do, using minerals and sunlight. But then, that human being will be an entirely different creature, hardly resembling to the top animal we are now. That’s a long,  a very long perspective.

   What should we do now? Eat your meal ( whatever it is), be thankful for it and shut up! Use your energies for things worth fighting for, use your energies to build bridges with your fellow humans and together, let’s make this planet a home for all. Humans,animals and plants, all together.

MEMORIES

The Sun hopped over the row of hills guarding the shore and the light showered the sea, wiping off the last shadows of the night. The water was quietly rippling, gently touching the soft, silky sands.

It was a remote shore, calm and serene, one that offered the long sought intimacy to the romantic dreamers. In the fresh light of the morning, the row of footprints was glistening in the sand. They seemed to come from nowhere and they were ending just as abruptly….But the shore knew them well, just as she knew the one they belonged to. She gathered the nacreous grains around the imprints, holding them lovingly, shielding them from the boisterous wind or the curious fingers of the waves. She has already lost a few of those precious memories so she was hanging desperately to the last ones remained. She wasn’t ready to let him go…her poet…the young man with eyes full of stars that used to walk her sands and sit there, dreaming his wonderful dreams, writing with a finger his poems into her wet cheeks….He had become her daily guest and she had grown on loving him. Now he was gone and she felt lost and deserted. She was afraid that she might forget him, as wind and water were robbing her day by day from the last remembering imprints. The shore shivered from inside, rolling the tiny grains of sand…Oh, why was love so beautiful and painful altogether?

 The sea kept rocking from side to side, leaving intricate laces of ephemeral foam on the rim of the shore. She was aware of the torment her friend was going through….She knew how love and loss can tear into the heart. Her deep, translucent one was carrying its own scars. She sent ahead a soft little wave and touched the shore…

“ Let him go, my dear…let him go….Let me ease your pain and I promise you that he will be remembered by the sound of my waves and the song of the wind…”

 The wave rose and caressed the white sands, smoothing the surface, washing away the footprints…The echo of the shore’s last sobs died in the wind and the world regained its balance.