Shooting Star. A Love Story. Ch.12-13.Heaven and Hell. Countdown

  1. Heaven and Hell

 

But the evening started with a phone call from Sumiko. She talked a lot with Kenzo, then asked about her brother. Ren was still gloomy. He took the phone with a heavy heart, guessing what was about to come.

-Hello, Sumi….-he said. What happened?

-Oh, Ren! What’s wrong with you? Hanako came to me crying about how you treated her! She’s such a sweet and sensitive girl! It took me awhile to comfort her! Father is very upset too. You must make amends, Ren!

The youth swallowed the words coming to him and took a deep breath before replying.

-I’m sorry. I was nervous and busy. Tell Father that I will make amends.

Sumiko let out a sigh of relief.

-I will tell him. Look, Ren. We agreed with Kenzo to go out on a double date with you and Hanako next week. I’ve got an invitation for us at Cinema City and after the movie, Kenzo will take us to a fancy restaurant. This way we can bring the family together and remove the bitter taste of today! You agree?

-I do, Sumi!-said the youth, disarmed by her plea. Good night, ane! I love you.

Ren slumped on the couch, exhausted. The world was spinning around him. He closed his eyes and let the tears stream down his cheeks. Kenzo sat next to him and took the youth in his arms.

-Sssshhhht….-he whispered, caressing him. Don’t cry, itoshikute (beloved). I’m here…..

    Silence enveloped them soothingly and the night spread its wings upon the world, bringing healing sleep and peaceful dreams to the tormented,loving hearts. Out in the Universe,the planet was gracefully  rolling on its celestial path….

     When dawn lifted with curious fingers the withering curtains of the skies, the first rays of the sun found the two young man sound asleep on the couch, lovingly holding each other.

 

  1. Countdown

 

     The following months went on without major disturbances. With Kenzo’s love, Ren “survived” to a number of double dates, giving some satisfaction to his family and to Hanako. But days were slowly adding up and the month of June was dangerously coming closer.       

   Doomsday. Kenzo and Ren were having a slightly different approach to it and different expectations about the future of their love. For the more pragmatic and stubborn Kenzo, that day wasn’t changing anything; he refused to envision a future without Ren’s love. But for Ren, that day was a turning point in his life and it meant the end of all physical involvement with Kenzo.The time left to then was one of all consuming love lived at high speed. They both knew that this was that “once in a lifetime”  kind of love, both elating and shattering, blazing and burning to ashes. A love to live for, a love to die for.

       Kenzo travelled a lot with business, taking Ren with him all the time. Luckily, the wise and more mature Sumiko managed to convince Hanako to come to terms with that and  to stop nagging her fiance.

-You’ll have a lifetime to spend together, Hanako!-she said, trying to cheer up the impatient young bride. Look, we can go together to make the wedding plans and shoppings. Kenzo has given me freedom in choosing all I want. This way you can make your own wedding arrangements too. What do you say, Hanako?

-Thank you, Sumiko! You are so good to me! I can hardly wait to go with you-replied the girl excitedly.

    Days passed and seasons changed and summer set in with the lively month of June. Nature dressed up in lush green, warmth brought with it life boosting rain showers. June was a month of blooming fertility, a month of blessing and joy. But not for everyone. The days before Kenzo and Sumiko’s marriage were becoming increasingly difficult to Ren. He was facing two personal disasters: ending his love and ending his freedom. Still, he was putting up a brave face, hiding his pain deeper and deeper inside.

   Friends and family were caught in a frenzy of preparations, nervous and excited. The last evening before the ceremonies, Kenzo and Ren met at late hours in Ren’s apartment. The moment felt awkward. There were so many things to say; yet words were difficult to find. They were both talking about unimportant details, trying to fill the meaningful silence between them.

-Dance with me!- Ren said suddenly in a soft voice. Before all is gone…I want you to  dance with me…

     He started music; the song was a mix of dream and passion, about a love lost. It was Gackt’s “ Last song” that Ren loved very much. Kenzo took his love in is arms and they danced…they danced….till they danced out all the unspoken words. And the music was playing on….

     Finally, they stopped and Kenzo kissed the youth.

-Good night, Ren! See you in the morning!-he said with a smile.

-Goodbye, Kenzo…..-replied the youth, returning the smile. But night has already moved into his eyes.

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Shooting Star. A Love Story. Ch.10-11. Labyrinth. Hanako

  1. Labyrinth

 

   The next morning, Kenzo accompanied his uncle to the airport and took a warm farewell from him. He then hurried to the park to meet Ren. He took the path to the red pavilion  in a breath! It never felt so faraway…

    Ren was leaning against one of wood columns supporting the roof, lost in thoughts when Kenzo burst in the pavilion. Ren turned to him and for a moment, they gazed at each other, motionlessly. Then, they flew in each others arms, clinging desperately to one another. Were they trees, with that surge of love and bursting emotions they would’ve grown into one in a split of a moment, unbreakable, inseparable!

   Before the youth could say something, Kenzo cupped his face in his palms, kissing him deeply, passionately and then held him strong again.

-Don’t say anything….I won’t give up on you. I love you like I never loved anyone before!-he breathed in Ren’s ears.

    Ren shuddered. He slowly unfolded from Kenzo’s embrace and faced him.

-She’s my sister and she seems to love you. Tell me how can I deal with this without jeopardizing her happiness?

    He walked to the railing of the pavilion, leaning over it , breathing heavily.

-We still have time till June next year-pleaded Kenzo. We can spend time together and work it out. I can handle everything  for your love! Ren! Ren….listen to me…This is not an ordinary love that we have. Don’t give up on it!

  He stepped to the youth, delving a hand in his rebellious strands. Ren turned with a sigh.

-I will stay with you till the marriage. I don’t want to cheat on Sumiko, Kenzo! I can’t do that!

-It’s fine with me, Ren. We’ll get through this together! Come, let me take you home. I would like to talk with your father.

    As JT drove them to the Shibata family house, Ren was leaning against Kenzo’s shoulder in the car; he was exhausted. It all happened so sudden! He needed that slim ray of hope to cope with all that occurred lately. Reading his late mother’s diary was offering him a way out of the entanglement but  he wasn’t ready to use it….Maybe, just maybe there was a miracle lying ahead.

     Late that evening, Professor Shibata had a talk again with his son.

-Ren, Kenzo came and offered you a  job as his private secretary. I know you still have courses to attend; but he’s leaving you the choice of time you can spend by his side, learning and working. I hope that you’d accept his offer. It would be a good opportunity to strengthen family ties and it would offer you some financial independence.

“ Hmm. He’s moving fast!” thought Ren.”Oh, well. Let’s see what will come out of this!”

-I’ll take the offer, Father-he said loudly- and I’ll do my best to comply. I will call Kenzo-san in the morning.

 

  1. Hanako  

 Kenzo’s arrangement for Ren worked surprisingly well. The youth moved out from home to a small apartment close to Kenzo’s place. As a private secretary, he could spend more time with him and they didn’t have to hide anymore. It was a perfect cover up for both of them. Kenzo’s engagement created a small tide of guesses and regrets in the media and in the heart of so many wannabe ladies; but after a while, they found new eligible bachelors to pursue and dream about. Life was good.

   One day, while Ren was at work, someone tapped his shoulder, calling him.

-There’s a girl outside, looking for you-said his colleague.

   Ren raised his eyes and looked at the door. Here she was: Hanako Ikeda, his fiancee. Surprised, the youth stood up and walked to her.

-Hanako! What are you doing here? Why did you come?

  Visibly annoyed, he took the girl out of the room and dragged her to a corner of the hallway.

-I wanted to see you!-she protested. We are engaged and I want to spend more time with you, Ren!

-Hanako….-the youth sighed. I’ve told you before, I tell you again: I cannot give you what you desire. Please, try to understand that. Go and find yourself a  young man who would love you and make you happy! Leave me alone.

   Hanako protested, tears building up in her eyes.

-I don’t want another young man! You are my fiance and I want you!

-Won’t you introduce me to this lovely lady, Ren?

Kenzo was standing there, with a mild smile on his lips. Hanako blushed while Ren made the introduction in a restrained voice:

-Hanako, this is Kenzo Nishimura, my boss! Kenzo, meet my fiancee, Hanako  Ikeda!

-Nice to meet you,Miss Ikeda!! Kenzo’s smile widened. -I didn’t know you’re engaged, Ren!-he continued, playfully raising an eyebrow.

-I’ve also learned  about that only recently-murmured Ren. But she’s leaving,anyway. Come, Hanako! Let me lead you out!-he said, grabbing her firmly by the elbow.

-Goodbye, Miss Ikeda!-said Kenzo with a courteous bow.

-Goodbye, Nishimura-san!- she replied, trying to keep up the pace with her annoyed fiance.

  Ren lead her out of the building and said once again:

-Goodbye, Hanako! Don’t come again, please. I am busy; I work here.

He turned swiftly and shut the door, leaving the unhappy girl standing alone in the street. Kenzo was waiting for him at the escalator.

-Hey! What have you done with the poor girl? Why are you so hard on her?-he said, teasingly rising an eyebrow.

 But Ren was visibly distraught and didn’t take the joke. He bit his lips nervously, then turned.

-Kenzo, I love you and I wish I could be so easygoing and pragmatic like you. But I am not. I don’t want Hanako to have expectations I can never fulfil. I can only hope that my harshness will drive her away and that she’ll find the love she deserves in someone else’s arms! I have nothing to offer her…

-I know, Ren. I walk the same shoes, remember!-said Kenzo, trying to appease him.

-No, you are not, Kenzo! You, at least like Sumiko and her love is not a burden for you. But I can’t even think of Hanako in that way…And I don’t want to make her life loveless and miserable! I have to go back to work, boss- he added with a small smile. You won’t pay me for small talk, will you?

He turned and left Kenzo alone in the hallway.

   “ Me and my big mouth!” thought Kenzo, hoping that he could comfort his love at home, in the evening.

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.6-7. Birthday. Autumn changes

  1. Birthday

 

     Kenzo’s thirtieth birthday was celebrated with great fuss by his friends, despite his protests. They’ve  decided to throw a huge party and reclaim him, after such long absence. Half smiling, half annoyed, he followed them and relaxed a bit. His mind was totally elsewhere.

-You look changed, but in a good way-said one of his old friends, holding out a glass of drink  to him. You’re slim, tanned and surprisingly silent. Where’s that wild party guy I knew from high school?-he continued teasingly.

-I might have grown out of that-grinned Kenzo. And before you get worried: I feel fine! But thanks anyway for this party and remembering my birthday despite my long silence. Cheers, my friend!

-Hmmmm….I think you’re under some spell. Could it be Benzaiten’s touch?-asked the friend with a wink.

    But before Kenzo could answer that, a noisy group of youth, boys and girls came for the birthday man and called him to cut the cake.The rest of the evening he spent trying to escape the attempts of various female guests in getting him drunk and  perhaps engaged to one of them.He skillfully avoided all traps, making sure he wasn’t hurting anyone’s feelings. By midnight, he excused himself and JT drove him home.

     A warm, dim light was filtering through the glass panel of his living room and Kenzo stepped in, looking around inquisitively. A small, lit candle, nesting inside a lotus flower was flickering on the table, sending dancing shadows on the walls of the room. He recognised the  familiar scent of his love seconds before Ren’s arms encircled him from behind.

-You are the most beautiful gift !-murmured Kenzo, turning in his embrace.

-JT let me in-whispered Ren. I wanted to surprise you.

-You did and JT knows me well. Kenzo hold his love closer and buried his face in Ren’s hair, breathing in deeply. For a moment, the Universe ceased to exist around them. It was just the silence of the night and the rhythm of two hearts beating together: tadam, tadam…

   The first rays of the sun found them sipping coffee together on the balcony. Down below, the city was stretching its limbs and cracking its fingers, gurgling, hissing and buzzing louder and louder.

The morning light put a rosy sheen on Ren’s cheeks while Kenzo  was glancing at him furtively. He sighed, then blurted out:

-My uncle is coming today to visit. This has become an annual tradition lately. He keeps “encouraging” me to find a girl and marry her, settle down and give our family an heir. I keep trying to elude his offers but I don’t want to hurt him either. He raised me with love and affection since I was fifteen, after my parents died in an accident.So, it will take a few days till we can meet again….

 Ren bit his lower lip and kept silent for a moment. Then he turned to Kenzo with a gentle smile.

-Your uncle sounds very much like my father. He warned me before we went to the sea that he would want to have a serious talk with me. So, I can imagine what it would be about….

-It looks like we are doomed -continued Ren, chuckling.

-Let’s hope we are not!-grinned Kenzo. I still have a few aces up in my sleeve!-he added with a wink.

   They stood up and Ren took his bag, ready to leave.

-I must go now! You’ll find me feeding the Koi when you’ll be available!-he said, facing Kenzo.

    The goodbye kiss was long and bitter sweet. Fate was casting a long shadow upon them and they were sensing its chill, despite all bravery.

 

  1. Autumn changes

  

 

         Uncle Seiji Nishimura was a venerable gentleman. Kenzo’s father had been his younger brother and the fatal accident left him heartbroken and responsible with the raising of his teenage nephew. The following 15 years had built a strong bond between them, so naturally, uncle Seiji wanted to see Kenzo fulfilled in all aspects.

     He was proud of the young man’s achievements, but  kept being concerned of his lack of interest in starting a family of its own. With Kenzo attaining his thirtieth birthday, he came to visit, determined to get a proper result this time.

-Don’t try to charm me off my feet, Kenzo!-he said laughing, as they embraced each other. I’ve learned your tricks these years. This year it’s my turn to make the rules and since I have to pay a visit to a distinguished  gentleman, I hope you will accompany me!

-I will, uncle! Don’t worry.-said Kenzo with a grin. JT will take us wherever you want.

-Good!-nodded approvingly the old man. Then tell him to be ready for tomorrow afternoon.

        The car rolled slowly into the quiet street. It was a pleasant area, far from noise and crowd, well protected by trees and colorful gardens. They stopped in front of a house bearing the lines of  classical architecture, adjusted to the needs of modern comfort. A tidy row of bushes was lining the pathway to the house. Uncle and nephew walked together to the door and a tall and lean man in his late sixties opened it , inviting them in a pleasant, slightly raspy voice:

-Please, come into my modest house!-he said with a polite bow.

 Uncle Seiji  returned the bow and presented Kenzo to their host.

-Professor Shibata! Allow me to introduce my nephew, Kenzo Nishimura!

-I’m honored, Professor Shibata!-bowed Kenzo.

-Come, come in, gentlemen!- said the Professor with a warm smile. It’s a good time for a tea and some talk.

   He guided them to a  well lit, spacious room, with walls covered in shelves full of books. They sat down around a low table.

-Sumiko!-said the host. You can bring in the tea.

    The girl carrying the silver tray of tea and cups was young and graceful. She moved quickly and with ease, serving each guest.

-My daughter, Sumiko!-introduced her the Professor. Sumiko, these are my old friend, Seiji Nishimura and his nephew, Kenzo Nishimura.

    She greeted them with such natural grace that for a moment Kenzo felt ….intimidated. She was so different from all the girls he ever met. And then, there was that lingering sense of familiarity that baffled him. He was certain he had never met her before; yet….Huh! He dismissed the feeling and focused on the conversation.

-Sumiko, why don’t you show Kenzo-san our garden while we talk here inside?-said the father after the tea.

-Sure, Father!-she said and turned to the young man. Kenzo-san! Do you like flowers?-she asked briskly. Taken by surprise, Kenzo reddened and muttered something.

    The garden was neat and well proportioned. Some narrow pathways were crisscrossing it, coiling around artful bushes and small flower beds. At the end of the garden, half hidden by the flow of Kana vines, there was a tiny pavilion, basking in the light of late summer dusk.

-Interesting!-said Kenzo. I see that you have a pavilion, but no pond nearby….

-It was Mom’s idea-said Sumiko. She wanted a pond with fish too, but Father was afraid we might fall in it, so they built only this. Sometimes we have blue flowers planted around it, like it’s water….

-You said “we”….

-Yes. Me and my younger brother. We were very small at that time….The pavilion became a playground and hiding place for us. Even now, he’s the one spending time reading inside the pavilion.He might be in there! Let me call him.

 She took a few steps forward and called:

-Ren! Ren!! Are you there?!

   Kenzo’s heart stopped. “NO!”-he shouted inwardly. “No! It cannot be!” But he already knew the answer. He just realised why Sumiko looked so familiar: she resembled a lot to Ren. They were brother and sister after all….Then, he heard him answering her call.

-Sumi?

    The curtain of Kana split and the youth stepped out in the light, trying to locate his sister. He saw Kenzo and froze, but Sumiko didn’t notice the exchange of glances. She grabbed her brother’s hand.

-Come on, Ren! We have visitors. I am Nishimura-san’s tour guide in our garden, while his uncle is talking with Father. Nishimura-san, this is my brother,Ren!

-Pleased to meet you!-said Kenzo, trying to capture Ren’s gaze. He could see how pale the youth  has turned.

-I’m honored!-replied Ren politely and his voice cracked for a moment. He took a deep breath, continuing: You will both excuse me, I feel a bit dizzy because of the sun. Anyway, Sumiko is the best tour guide one can have; so, enjoy your time in the garden!

  He put a peck on Sumiko’s cheek and hurried to the house. His eyes were dark with despair.

-Please don’t take him wrong, Kenzo-san!-said Sumiko worriedly. Ren is a very sensitive person and he suffered a lot when our Mom died. He was only two years old at that time….

-I can understand, Sumiko-san. I know how it feels. I’ve lost my parents when I was a teenager. I would suggest that we return to the house; your brother might need you and I think my uncle is ready to go home too. Thank you for your kindness in showing me around!

    Sumiko blushed.

-You’re welcome, Kenzo-san. Anytime.

 

Children of Rainbow Universe. Green Spirit. Illustration

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Drawing on paper in color pencils, water color, ink gel pen and acrylic. Just dreaming about my flying humans and the colorful diversity of the Universe.Maybe they’ll come true one day. Or maybe reality will surpass all imagination in a good sense. I am optimistic :). Till then, enjoy!