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”

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The Lost Butterfly-revised. Ch. 1e

Chapter 1e.

Angela soon became a regular to their house. Yoshiasu had to return to work so he asked his long-time friend to look after Fuyuki. She happily complied; she liked the young artist so she took him under her wings.

She took him out shopping and helped him to buy his own clothes. Yoshiasu was earning well so money was not a problem. Angela also bought colors and all the material he needed for his art and encouraged him to draw and paint. Not surprisingly, Fuyuki’s artworks sold well; though the first buyers were mostly from their close circle of friends, soon the outsiders got to know about his art  and liked it too.

It was Angela who introduced the young artist to the world of computers and Internet and she was pleasantly surprised by the quick progresses made by her apprentice. Getting in closer touch with the real world, helped Fuyuki to build up some confidence and a protective wall. He was still very vulnerable on the inside but this was known only by Yoshiasu and Angela. But being so much around them, made Angela aware that tension was building up under the surface in the life of the two young men.

As Fuyuki seemed to become more independent, Yoshiasu was  becaming more and more distant and busy. He even refused to go out with the two of them, pretending that he had urgent work to do. This particular change in his behavior hurt and puzzled Fuyuki. Though he did his best not to show, a veil of sadness started to dim the light in his eyes. One day, he finally burst out:

-Angela! Please talk to Yoshiasu! He is constantly avoiding me. I must have done something wrong that he doesn’t want me around…

-You did nothing wrong-she said, trying to comfort him. He is just tired and jumpy because of his work.

Fuyuki shuddered.

-I hope you’re right- he said in a small voice. Because I have no reason to live if he doesn’t want me anymore…

-Fuyuki!-protested Angela but the young man has already shut the bedroom door behind him.

Despite her best efforts to get Yoshiasu to talk to her, things were just not adding up. There were days when Yoshiasu was becoming almost monosyllabic, while Fuyuki was trying to put up a brave face. This went on until one day, when Angela showed up right in the middle of the storm. Looking at them, it became obvious for her that the two men had recently fought over something.

Yoshiasu quickly disappeared in the kitchen. “I’m making a coffee”-he said, while Fuyuki’s eyes were red and his voice broke as he spoke to her.

-He’s angry; help him, please. I’ll be fine…-he said though  obviously he wasn’t.

Angela patted him on the shoulder and went to the kitchen where Yoshiasu was fumbling with the coffee pot.

-Why is Fuyuki crying? What have you done to him?-asked Angela.

-Nothing-mumbled the other.

-Yoshiasu, what are you doing?-Angela was getting angry. Why are you pushing him away? It’s so obvious that you’re in love with Fuyuki.

Yoshiasu slammed the pot.

-This is exactly why I don’t want to tie him down to me. I can see that he is getting better and for the first time in his life, he can make a choice for himself. I don’t want him to stay with me simply because I was the one that nurtured him back to life. It wouldn’t be fair to him.

Angela shook her head in disbelief; she then grabbed Yoshiasu by the shoulders, shaking him vigorously.

-My friend, you are a fool! You are an even bigger fool that I’ve expected. I can understand your moral concerns but it didn’t cross your mind that maybe Fuyuki has already made his choice and that is you?!

-How would I know?!-shouted Yoshiasu.

Angela slammed her palm to the table.

-What do you expect from him, a solemn declaration, written down or what? For God’s sake, you don’t even realize how lucky you are! Here is this sophisticated, beautiful young man who sees no one but you and you’re uncertain…About what are you uncertain? Let me tell you something as a good friend: I can vouch for Fuyuki’s feelings. He loves YOU, that’s for sure! But seeing how you treat him I come to doubt YOUR feelings towards him: is this really LOVE as you pretend or just infatuation? Make up your mind, man, before it’s too late! After all he has been through, Fuyuki doesn’t deserve this!

There was a moment of deep silence. Angela poured the coffee in three mugs while Yoshiasu stood there, bent over the kitchen table and head in his palms. There was a soft rustle at the door. As they both turned, they saw a pale and shaken Fuyuki leaning against the door frame.

-Yoshiasu, I cannot tell you if this is love-he said in a soft voice. I have never known love before. All I know is that I don’t want to go on without you. Don’t let me go! Please…

Yoshiasu pushed everything aside and quickly closed the distance between them. He cupped the young man’s face with both hands and looked deep into those beautiful lilac eyes.

-Forgive me-he said in a coarse voice. I love you so much…I’ll never let you go. Never!

As Fuyuki folded in his arms, he buried his face in his hair.

-Hmph…That’s better-coughed amusedly Angela. Now let’s have that coffee and talk about the plans for the winter holidays.

The evening turned up fine and they all agreed in spending Christmas together with their friends at an inn in the nearby mountains.