Sunset – Snippets #4

“Wow! is this like a favorite spot?” Akari asked, raising her eyebrows and her eyes wide open looking at the city across the river. The financial tower stood proudly behind a melancholy fog. A few couples stood along the bridge all looking towards the city in a distance.

“My favorite spot, yes! But then people kind of steal it”

The afternoon breeze in the very first days of July gently touched on Akari’s wavy hair bang making it quiver. Her hair strands softly flew in the wind and covered a part of her cheek. Under the bridge, the river’s tranquil surface sometimes disrupted by big and little boats creating curvy waves that spread all its way to the river bank.

“We’re still early” I said, looking into the sun which was still high above and hidden by clouds.

“What? Oh the sunset?” Akari asked. The muscles on her face relaxed as she finally figured it out.

“Yes, I wanted to show you the sunset” I said with my eyes still looking at the obstructed sun.

Akari slightly shook her head to make the hairs flip away but the hairs keep covering her face. I stroked her hairs and tucked it behind her ear.

“Nice earrings” I said

“Thank you!” said Akari, briefly looked at me and turned away. The golden hour turned her face red.

Or was it me?

***************

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Goodbye Girl – Snippets #3

Humans perhaps is the only species that could die from sadness.

Instead of doing handshake like strangers, I quickly stooped and hug Akari tightly as though I’d never let her go. The moment of which seems to be less than a second felt like forever. I wanted to tell Akari that I will never forget and will miss her very much but somehow the words just refused and betrayed me.

Akari had one 23 kilos luggage and a carry-on handbag. I took the driver’s task and put them in the trunk by myself. The luggage didn’t feel heavy. It felt more like anger and remorse. The last thing went in the back of the cab was her purple umbrella. It was closed. I looked at it and remember the last time I opened it on the balcony. I wished it busted open inside out like my heart right now. Yet it was closed, cold and cruel, so was Akari’s heart.

Akari hopped in the cab and said to me while looking away

“Well, I will see you again” not forgetting to add her sparkling smile

Her big beautiful eyes under the yellow street lights met my glance. My heart sank.

“Like in five years?” I forced a smile

Akari smiled her same smile, but this time, her left dimple is just as deep as the hole in my heart.

“Maybe sooner” Akari smiled, her eyes broke contact trying to hide away the insincerity.

“Ok!” I tortured my face muscles to smile once again before closing the door. My heart shattered as the door slammed.

The cab drove off and disappeared in the distance. Standing alone I felt an empty hole on my chest, tried to remember where I left my heart at? Did I just leave it in the cab a minute ago or did I leave it on the balcony of the coffee shop where we talked about all the things on Earth?

I couldn’t find my words to say goodbye and neither Akari. My heart broke. Akari didn’t do it. Maybe some stranger did really throw it out the balcony. But isn’t Akari now a stranger I used to know?

 

Kiss – Snippets #1

“I feel like I could have a Tiramisu.” I asked

“Yes, I love Tiramisu, but first I want to try bánh mì!”[1] Akari answered with her eyes brightened

“Great, it’s right around the corner. Let’s go” I turned to Akari with excitement wanting to hold her hands and run but suddenly recalled that weak effort from Akari’s hand the other night in the movie theater so I stopped. We climed up the sixth floor of an old apartment building where there is full of coffee shops, restaurants and clothing stores inside.

“So many coffee shops in here. Are you sure this place has Tiramisu?” I asked, unsure

“Yeah! I remember”

We stepped in the coffe shop. The banner outside wrote: “Welcome to Sài Gòn ơi!” What a beautiful sentimental name. I looked at Akari, secretly wanted to call her “Akari ơi” [2]and wished she’d understand and turned to me and smile with all the warmth she has.

Reality, however, has its own story. As we were waiting in line, I saw a longer line that’s probably going to take a lifetime to get through. It’s the line that draws the cultural difference and limitations between Akari and me. What do I have to do to get over that wall and be a step closer to Akari?  Akari couldn’t care less about what name of the store meant or why was it named that way.

“Next!” the powerful voice of the cashier snapped me back to reality.

Akari wanted smoothies since the store ran out of Tiramisu. I just wanted orange juice. The cashier took orders and gave me a wooden heart that wrote my name in white chalk so that the waiter’d know where to bring the drinks. I gave my heart to Akari and we went to the table by the balcony that has a wonderful view down to the street.

“ Do you think my heart would break if I throw it down?” I looked down outside the balcony

“Of course, it’ll break what do you think. Do you know that if a coin is dropped from a building it could kill a person?”

“What? Really? That’s really hard to believe!”

“Yeah, I know. Because the speed and the height that makes it so dangerous” Akari answered with her hand doing the motion of the coin dropping before me. I looked at her lips and wondered what it tastes like.

Akari took out a small bottle from her handbag and apply the liquid onto her ankle.

“What’s that? Mosquitos?” I asked

“Yeah”, Akari crossed her left leg exposing her glorious plain ankle, and put more repellents on it. Her one-word reply was enough to show how irritating the bites made her. Goddamn mosquitos. I hate them for biting Akari’s leg. My hands were twitching as I resisted the temptation to give her a hand, to wind her ankle, to feel how soft it is and to tell her that her unadorned ankle is the most intriguing, sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.

“My ex-girl friend just got married a few days ago. I should’ve asked you to come to the wedding and make a scene there. I’m going to punch the husband and you’re going to slap the wife and then we’ll hold hands and run into the sunset.”

“Gosh, what kind of imagination is that?” Akari raised her voice and giggled.

“What? It’d be fun. I promise. But too bad, I wasn’t invited.”

Akari broke into laughter. “Yep, I can totally see that coming.” said Akari

“What age do you want to get married?” I asked.

“Maybe 25. I want to travel and enjoy before I had to deal with all that” smiled Akari. I noticed a dimple on the left side of her lips. “What about you?”

“Maybe 30, 35.” I said

“Wow, so late?”

“That’s late? Well I want to focus on my job first cuz I wanna be rich”

“You want a boy or a girl?” I continued.

“Either one. Well, actually, a girl, cuz I wanna do her hairs.” Akari look into the distance and smile subtly. I saw a picture of a house with kids somewhere in the peaceful suburb near a small park and a river in her black beautiful eyes. I wondered if my eyeglasses would make it hard to kiss her as though there aren’t enough things to prevent me and Akari to be together already.

“I don’t think my heart would break, though. It is not that easy to break.”, I said with my hands holding the wooden heart.

“Are you really going to throw it down?” Akari moved her gaze to me with an innocent voice as if she really believes that’s going to happen.

“Well, I gave it to you, and you don’t seem to want to keep it, so there’s no point of having it back. I ripped it out for you, can’t put it back in.” I answered and caught her shy glance at me. Akari quickly looked away. We kept silence and both looked to the distance where the sun was setting behind the buildings.

“Do people in Japan kiss and hold hands on the street?[3]” I asked, breaking the silence

“No, that’d be weird” said Akari

“It’s ok to hold hands here in Vietnam, let’s hold hands” I said

“No! people are looking at us!” Akari face turned red and I was unsure whether that’s her makeup or blood rushed to Akari’s face but I was so sure Akari had never been adorable as she was at this moment.  I wrapped my arm behind Akari to grab the purple umbrella next to her on the other side and opened it.

“How about now? No one can see us ” I teased.

I continued: “You know what Akari, I tried to not stare at you and control my heart whenever I’m with you so that I’m not out of breath and look like a desperate dude, but seeing you right now, I think I’m going to surrender. Maybe I really am a desperate one.” Akari looked at me, eyes goggled. Not waiting for Akari’s reply, I pulled her closer to me, took her arm and put it on my shoulder.

Akari lips didn’t taste like chocolate. It tasted like a mixture of smoothies and a six foot long bánh mì. Weird combination but I liked it. The eyeglasses did make it a little harder to kiss but she helped.

***********

 

 

 

 

[1] Bánh mì is a type of Vietnamese sandwich very popular in Vietnam.

[2] In Vietnamese, in order to call someone by their name, the word “ơi” is added after the name of that person. This way of calling a person’s name is formal, friendly and sentimental.

[3] Public display of affection is considered impolite and not encouraged in most countries in Asia