Sailing

by Miles Rost

It was a calm day on the seas. Off the coast of Catalina, the yacht Isabelle was slowly making it’s way south towards San Diego. The drifting of the boat was enough to feel that there was movement, but yet it was slow enough that it wouldn’t go too far if someone fell off.

Mark Yulogh sat behind the helm of the yacht. He was dressed in a loud Hawaiian shirt that screamed “Magnum P.I.”. Clad in white shorts, canvas shoes, and with a pair of shades propped on his head, he looked like a typical boater and tourist. Though he made his home in Oceanside, he always loved taking the yacht for a ride whenever he could.

His girlfriend Jayna was sitting on the bow of the yacht, accumulating as much vitamin D as she could as she let the ultraviolet rays of the bright midday sun beats down on her. Wearing a white bikini that hid enough, and with a white wrap around her waist, she looked like a stereotypical “yacht girl”.

The seas they were on were very calm, with very little movement happening. The currents were not very strong this day, and the water glowed a brighter blue-green color. It was as if the day was a perfect one for just laying out in the ocean with no cares.

“Honey,” Mark called out, as he walked from the cabin to the bow, carrying two more glass bottles of Pepsi, “Do you want to have lunch off Catalina, or would you like to head down towards Dana Point?”

“Catalina sounds fine for me. I’m just about done with sunning, anyways. What do we have to eat today, anyways?”

“We’ve got some turkey and cheese hoagies, some wonderful home-baked potato chips with sea salt and pepper, and our cola.”

Jayna sat up and smiled broadly.

“Did you say home-baked potato chips?”

Mark winked at her, as he started to turn.

“Made them myself last night, and put them in an airtight container. They should be very crisp.”

The couple lowered anchor off the western coast of Catalina Island and enjoyed their lunch. As they were finishing the last of the chips, a small cruiser pulled up by them.

“Hey, ahoy there!” the officer on the police cruiser called.

“Ahoy, officer. Are we not allowed out here today?”

“Nah, just got a message here. You’re Mark Yulogh, right?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s a note from your parents. They’re flying into Lindbergh tonight.”

Mark sighed, with the weight on his shoulders.

“Thank you for letting me know. We’ll get on our way in just a few.”

The officer saluted and zipped back towards the northern coast.

“Looks like we’re going to have to make things official with them.”

Jayna looked up at Mark, and cocked her head to the side. A couple of her sun-kissed brunette locks fell down around her face.

He patted his pockets and smiled. He proceeded to pull out a small box, and kneeled down in front of her.

“For a very long time, Jayna, we’ve been together. I was thinking about doing this tonight after we got back to San Diego, but now is good of a time as any.”

Jayna gasped, as she knew what was coming.

“Jayna Brown, would you marry me?”

She squealed and jumped up and down.

“Yes! Yesyesyes! A thousand times yes!”

She proceeded to hug him and smiled at him broadly.

“I guess we should get back to port, eh? If they’re coming in tonight, that means we’re going to have to take them out to dinner.”

Jayna smiled at him and looked out over the ocean.

“After we get married, we should think about a long sail down the pacific coast. Maybe hit Cabo or San Salvador.”

Mark just smiled as he pulled up the anchor.

The couple walked into the cabin, and with a roar of the motor, they scuppered off toward home port. Fiancees on their way to give good news.

Advertisements

You Can’t Run From Love

by Miles Rost

15 years ago, Charles Martin stood on top of an outcropping over Lake Superior and yelled out to anyone who could hear him on the lake.

“I WILL NEVER, EVER, GET MARRIED!”

Charles was a frustrated man. From the time he was young, everything he wanted to do was thwarted in some way. He had a dream of becoming a congressman, and the corruption of those who he looked up to left him in disgust. He had a dream of going into the NFL and becoming a great running back, and a torn ACL in high school killed his career before it could even start. Before that day, 15 years ago, he was engaged twice. Both times, the women left him.

“You’re boring.”

“You are just not right for me after all.”

Charles was so frustrated by these dumpings, and his incredible bad luck during his teen years, that at the age of 24, he made his proclamation to God, the world, the water, and anything that could hear him.

Those 15 years gave Charles a chance to get himself on a better track. He graduated from college, toured the United States, and later left for China to teach Mathematics to university students.

He and his fellow teacher, Shen-Wei, sat in a bar and joked over a couple of Qingdao beers.

“Man, I could never live in the US again. They’re just falling over flat. Being here…it’s close to heaven,” Charles said, his speech slurring slightly from the amount of beers that he has.

“China can be good place for people. Not exactly heaven, but it has great beer.”

As they laughed at the botched reference to an old Wisconsin tavern tune, a young lady walked up behind Shen-Wei and tapped his shoulder. She asked a few things in Chinese to him, and he replied brusquely. She nodded, and walked over to Charles.

“I told your friend, you are very handsome,” she said, in broken English.

Charles eyed her up and down, to get an idea of who she was. As he finished giving her the scanning eye, he noticed a small tattoo on her shoulder. The tattoo was of a celtic cross. He started to feel a bit fuzzy, as he looked down at his own shoulder. He remembered getting a similar tattoo years ago, without even thinking about things.

“Where did you get the tattoo?” he asked her, skipping all pleasantries.

“Korea. I got idea in vision.”

“Interesting.”

By this time, the fascination had gone by. However, his heart wouldn’t let him leave it behind just yet.

“What is your name?”

“Shen-Zhen. In English, I am Cindy.”

After that first meeting, Charles went home and sat. The image of that celtic cross on her shoulder, in the same exact place as his, made him wonder.

He tried to forget her, but everywhere he went in the city of Qingdao, somehow she was there. Even if she didn’t talk to him, he still saw her dead in his sights. Slowly, but surely, he noticed that he liked going places and seeing her there. He didn’t know what he could do. He made his vow. Did this mean that he was falling for someone again?

The answer to his question happened about 2 weeks after the last encounter, 6 months after their first meeting.

He sat in a park in Qingdao, looking around and just resting. He had seen Cindy earlier in the month, but started to avoid the bars. He just wasn’t interested in drinking cheap beer anymore.

“Charles?”

He looked up from his bench and straight into the deep dark brown eyes of Cindy.

“Cindy…what are you doing here?”

“I came to find you. You haven’t been around.”

“I decided to give up drinking and bars.”

Cindy smiled, and sat down.

“I think of you. You make me happy.”

Charles’s head swung her way quickly.

“What do you mean?”

“There is famous poet here, many years ago, said something important. “A man who says he never marries, will find love when he doesn’t want it.””

Charles groaned.

“Not another Confucius says…”

She looked at him and turned a small bit of fire on him.

“Not Confucius.”

Charles continued to groan. This made Cindy man.

It don’t matter where you go. It’s going to find you anyways. You can’t run from love.”

Now that didn’t sound like Confucius, Charles thought.

“Who said that?”

Cindy smiled.

“Eddie the Rabbitt.”

Charles looked at her, his eyes staring at her in disbelief.

“Tell me, Cindy. Are you trying to say you love me?”

“Yes. I want you forever.”

Charles was floored. He didn’t know what to reply.

“I said once that I would never marry. What would make you different from the others who left me?”

Cindy looked at him square in the eye and pulled her shirt over her head. Next to her tank top, on the shoulder, she showed him the celtic cross. She grabbed his sweater, and pulled it to show his.

“We are linked.”

He suddenly realized that it wasn’t going to be the same as the others. If he didn’t take his chance now with this woman, he was lost forever.

“Challenge accepted.”

Oh Sherry!

(aka Sherry and Scott: Part 2)

by Miles Rost

Sherry Makinami and Scott Schmidt looked out at the plants that grew outside of the Hamilton Dormitory Complex, while they each sipped on a cold drink. In the aftermath of the events from earlier that day, word had spread to parts that two girls had it out with each other, but without a punch thrown. While no one really knew what happened, Sherry knew. And she was still shedding tears.

Scott looked down at her, his arm wrapped around her shoulders. He leaned her head against the crook in his shoulder as he sipped on his soda.

“Think you can tell me now what happened?”

Sherry looked down at his hand, sighing.

“I don’t like talking about it, honestly.”

“And yet, to make sure I know what I’m getting into, I need to know.”

She sat up and looked him square in the eye. She took a breath in, readying herself for the story that she was about to tell.

“It started in high school. I was being picked on for many reasons, most of which were incredibly childish and petty. One day, it went too far. And I just got mad at this one girl. I just kept thinking about how she just needed to go away, to just shut up and leave me alone. I didn’t realize it until after her body hit the floor that I caused her to die. They called it a stroke, but I know that it was me who did it. With my mind.”

Scott looked into her eyes, piercing the veil and seeing the true feelings in her mind.

“And this thing you have, it only happens…when you’re stressed?”

“Not really. It’s more either when there’s a lot of danger happening, like with Delia wanting to have her goons beat you up; or it’s when someone really makes me angry. I’ve learned to control it so that it doesn’t hurt people who I love when they disappoint or cause me anger, but the limiters come off when something I love is threatened.”

Scott continued to look into her eyes.

“So that means my brains won’t go splat if we have an argument, right?”

Sherry’s face turned to horror, before she closed her eyes and breathed.

“No, Scott. I wouldn’t do that to you. If you executed my mother and father in cold blood, then yes. But I know you, and I know you wouldn’t do that.”

Scott smiled, and laid her head back down on his shoulder.

“Even with knowing what you can do, I wouldn’t leave you.”

She snuggled into his shoulder and sighed contently.

Oh, Sherry. Our love holds on. Even through scanner events and strange dealings.”

Sherry looked up at his face, as he stared out into the darkness.

I should’ve been gone, long ago and far away. But, now I know just why you stay.

He looked down at her again and smiled.

“You’re worth it.”

They spent the rest of the evening and late night looking out at the people, just holding each other and being content. As the evening wore on, they never noticed the peculiarly placed plumbing van on the other side of the street.

“Got eyes on the target, Vincent?”

“Yep. I think we’ll be able to get her this time. And this time, it won’t end up in fiction like ‘Firestarter’.”

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

“Meow Meow!”

The sound of Scott’s “meowing cat alarm clock ringtone” helped to rouse him from his sleep. He stretched his arms out, and looked at his bed. Noticing that no one was there, and breathing a sigh of relief, he sat up and went over to the window. He opened it and looked out on the sunny quad, overlooking Humpy Lumpy Lawn.

He noticed a pair of nice looking legs tanning in the mid-morning sun, reading a book. He looked at her and grinned, as he got himself dressed.

He walked out to the lawn in flip flops, a hawaiian shirt, and cargo shorts. He stopped just before, and took a look at the nice pair of legs, attached to a beautiful rest of a female form, and he plopped down next to her.

“You are the best sight to see in the morning,” he said to her.

Sherry looked up at him from her book and gave him a peck on the cheek.

“Very few people are talking about yesterday. I’m back to being largely anonymous.”

He brushed a strand of shoulder-length maroon hair out of her face. He admired her face for a few seconds.

“I don’t know how long that will be, though.”

Sherry looked up at him, puzzled.

“What if I became student union president and serenaded you in the middle of the amphitheatre?”

Immediately after the word “serenaded”, she started to blush a color that nearly matched her hair.

Scott looked at her and smiled. He finally found something that he could use for later.

Seems that you know that there’s a fever that you’ll never find nowhere else. You can feel it burnin‘.”

Sherry closed her book and sat up onto her knees. She brought her face close to his, and looked deep into his eyes. He felt her pierce his soul, and he hers.

“Maybe you can serenade me over lunch at Rennie’s.”

He smiled, and lifted her up.

“Let’s go. We don’t have classes until 1.”

They left the lawn and headed towards the other side of campus. They walked across the street, and passed the van that was still sitting next to the curbside.

Scott was about to say something, when he felt his world go black. The last thing he heard was the muffled scream from Sherry, as he slipped into unconsciousness.

Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

by Miles Rost

Yeardley’s Club was a place for lovers to visit, to eat, and to spend time with their mates. The owner, Bill Yeardley, had a habit of saying that Yeardley’s “is the place where parents can be married again.” Night after night, the main dining room would be packed with the soft sounds of dinner being served, the light sounds of a jazz piano or jazz ensemble playing in the background while parents relaxed. No expense was spared when giving the parents a time to rest.

There were some nights when it was tense, with some parents that didn’t end up relaxing all that much and ended up in an escalating argument. For those times, Yeardley himself came out to the table and helped get them to a private table in a soundproof room where they could mediate their issues and still enjoy dinner. The atmosphere was still the same in these rooms, with microphones around the restaurant piping in the sound.

Most nights, however, were a delight for Yeardley and his staff of 25. They did all that they could do to make the patron’s experiences enjoyable. Not only would this get them to come back again, but it would continue to set their reputation as “the place to get away from the kids”.

This night, Yeardley sat back in a chair in a hidden area overlooking the restaurant floor. He would be able to see if there were any issues, and still enjoy his time. Since the staff were pretty well policed, he didn’t have to worry about major problems. About an hour into the Friday dinner “rush”, he decided to take a walk around the floor.

He walked around the tables, stopping every so often just to make sure that things were alright, and quickly moved on. As he was about to finish his walkaround, he heard the sounds of what appeared to be a couple in distress. He looked around and spotted the table. The closest waiter to him was summoned, and briefed him on what was going on.

“Alfonse, what’s going on at Table 15?”

“Looks like marital problem. I think it’s an affair from what I am understanding.”

“Get the special wine, do NOT charge them for it, and ready “the crystal”. I’ll go over and do the recon and see if we have to deploy.”

Alfonse did so, and Yeardley went over to the table to get more information.

“Good evening. I’m Bill Yeardley, the owner of the restaurant. Is everything going okay for you tonight?”

The young mother looked at him with a look of disgust on her face.

“We came out here to have a night away from the kids, and he decided to tell me he’s found someone new.”

The young father grumbled. Yeardley turned and looked at him with the usual kind eyes.

“Is that so?”

“It’s not that I found someone new, it’s that I’ve been contemplating it because we aren’t in love anymore.”

Yeardley chuckled at this. The young man did not look amused at the chuckling.

“My dear young man, one of the things to remember is that love isn’t a fleeting feeling. Sure, there’s the feeling of eros; the type of love that makes you all gooey inside and makes you put the wrong key in your door. That’s a form of love. But those who are married, and who have kids, it’s more than just that emotional and primal state of love.”

The young man just huffed at this notion, as Yeardley turned his eyes to the young woman.

“My dear lady, let me ask something. When you are at home because of the kids, and your husband walks through the door, what do you ask him first?”

She thought for a moment, and replied, “Can you help me with dinner?”

Yeardley looked at both of them, with a small bit of shock on his face at the obliviousness of the couple, and promptly snapped his fingers. Within seconds, Alfonse and two of the other waiters were at his hand.

“Deploy “the crystal”, Alfonse.”

“Right away, sir.”

Yeardley looked down at the couple, as Alfonse approached the stage.

“I want you to listen to the song that will be played first. Take the lyrics and apply it. I think you’ll understand things.”

Alfonse went up onto the stage, and smiled at everyone.

“If I may have your attention please! There are some points in time where live music is going to be necessary for increased ambiance. Sometimes, it is also for people to listen to something that may give them aid in issues that they may have. In these times, that is when we bring on a few of our better players to join in and play something for a certain couple who may need a little more assistance. For that, we bring on our resident jazz siren.  Please welcome, Sugar Ruby!”

The applause from the people was strong, yet respectful as Sugar Ruby, the jazz/standards singer for the house, walked onto stage. With a count of four, her and the house band started into a nearly note for note rendition of Crystal Gayle’s 1978 classic “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”.

As the couple listened to the song, the young man looked at his wife and sighed. He shook his head at himself, and he reached over to hold his wife’s hand. The wife looked at him and bowed his head slightly as she covered his hand with her other one.

Yeardley looked down at the couple again, and gave a satisfied smile. He waited back a ways from the table while they enjoyed the music.

After the song was complete, a couple of minutes of just plain, soft, piano music played as Ruby got herself some water.

Yeardley slid back over to the table and looked down.

“My good man, your wife loves you. Sometimes it may seem like there’s a lot to bear, being the man of the house. But remember something, she’s the one you’re supposed to protect. She’s your life. She isn’t disposable, and she loves you dearly. Try to work with her on things, and see how things can go.”

He looked back at the young woman.

“For you, young lady, the biggest thing that you can do for your husband when he comes home is to give him a kiss. It’s a small thing, and it may take two seconds, but instead of giving him a command that may turn him off, it’ll ignite his fire and maybe want to help you with cooking dinner.”

They both nodded at this.

“Your dinner for tonight is on the house. Stay as long as you like, order up a slice of “two-person cheesecake”. But promise me that when you get home, you’ll spend more time with each other.”

“We promise,” they said, in unison. They giggled as they looked at each other.

“And have a good night,” Yeardley finally said, completing his job for that time. As he walked from the table towards the kitchen, he looked at Alfonse, who was grinning from ear to ear at what he had seen.

“Al, this is what Yeardley’s is all about. Making sure that parents have a chance to get together, work whatever issues they have out, and to enjoy themselves while doing it. If I ever retire, I want you to remember that.”

“No chance I’ll forget, sir,” Alfonse replied, with a smile and a salute.

Yeardley laughed at the awkward pose, as he swung through the kitchen doors.

I’m No Stranger To The Rain

by Miles Rost

Lacey Opheim sat under the bus stop canopy, trying her hardest to stay out of the downpour that was currently plaguing the city she lived in. Summertime was always a worrysome time for the rains, especially if they came early. On this early July afternoon, the rain was coming down in buckets and showed no signs of letting up.

It fit her mood perfectly.

She sat and looked out over the rice fields of her city, trying to make sense of all that had happened. She looked out and sighed heavily, knowing that when she arrived at work, hell was going to break loose and she was not going to be all that pleased about the results. As the editor of a foreign language newspaper, it was her responsibility to take care of errors and issues, and she had a big one run through the morning edition like a runaway freight train.

She sat under that canopy as though it were a dark cloud. She barely even noticed when a young man walked in from the rain.

“Mind if I sit here?”

She waved him in, without taking a second look at him. An awkward silence filled the air

“Looks like today it’s really coming down,” he said, leaning back and relaxing his elbows on the railing behind him.

She didn’t say anything, and just kept staring at the rice fields across the road.

The man just smirked.

I can spot bad weather. I’m good at finding shelter in a downpour. And, I can also see when someone’s got a whole lotta world on their shoulders.”

She looked up at him with a face full of ‘go away’ written all over it.

“And I’ve seen that face too many times to mention,” the man said.

Lacey saw that the man was Asian, either Japanese or Korean. She didn’t really know the difference, as she was “one of those ignorant foreigners”. She also noticed that the asian man was wearing a stetson, but otherwise was soaked through.

“You’re going to catch a cold if you don’t take care of those wet clothes,” she responded, hoping that he would leave her alone.

“Young lady, I’ve been through too many rainstorms to have to worry about my clothes. I make it a regular event to walk in a downpour.”

She turned her head back to the rain and the fields.

You’ve got a foggy feeling, you’re feeling down. If you don’t clear your head, you just may drown. In your gloominess, that is.”

“So what are you supposed to be, sir? Some sort of a rain-soaked counselor?”

The man just chuckled.

“Well, I reckon that I am merely here waiting for the bus downtown, and that you have something going on that you are just wanting to get off your chest.”

She sighed, as he hit the nail on the head.

“I made a major error. One that could get me fired. And it wasn’t even something I knew about. It was just automatic approval.”

“What was it?”

“If you saw the front page of today’s newspaper, you’d be likely to see the error.”

“You mean the headline story about how the mayor was suspected of having an illicit affair even though everyone seems to know that it was not true?”

She groaned at this.

“What if I told you that when you go into work today, you’re not going to be fired? You’re not going to be yelled at. Nothing will happen to you.”

Her head swiveled towards him quickly.

“What do you mean?”

I’m no stranger to the rains, lady. I’m a friend of thunder, lightning strikes me and I don’t get hurt.”

Lacey blinked at him, waiting for the punchline.

“Let me put it another way. The story was not in error. And just before you exit the elevator on your floor, the floor with the editors and the desk jockey journalists, you will be given a notice about a developing story about the mayor’s resignation due to accusations of sexual assault by no less than five teenage girls.”

Her mouth just dropped.

“How do you know this? How the hell do you know all of this?”

The man chuckled, as he pulled out his cell phone and smiled.

“I’m the mayor’s chief of staff. I know his secrets, and I’ve been waiting to tell them to someone.”

Lacey looked at him, and fell backwards into unconsciousness.

The news, simply, overloaded her brain.

Limelight

by Miles Rost

“Seems like the only thing I get recognized for around here is my screwups.”

To no one in particular, John Barrett uttered words that came from the deepest part of his heart. A bassist for the band Stickyfeet, he was the guy who kept the band going when the lead singer or the two guitarists had their fits and their temper tantrums. Sometimes things went well when they went off the rails. Other times, like this day, he was on the receiving end of blame for lousy concern ticket numbers coming out of the mouth of their manager, Buck Waignwright.

“Hey! You need to keep the other guys up and working. Our ticket sales went through the crapper for the last 4 shows!”

John just rolled his eyes as Buck railed him up and down for not doing the role of being the brother’s keeper.

“It’s not my fault Izzy and Travis get plastered before the concert and can’t keep themselves sitting up. I try to pour the coffee down their throats and keep my basslines neat, but I can’t do everything.”

“Well, maybe you should try just a little bit harder.”

“Or you could hire a roadie whose job would be to keep them from going into the sauce.”

Buck laughed, and coughed, then laughed some more.

“We have 5 dates left for the tour. Once that’s done, we’re going to do some re-evaluating. You better be ready, cause you might just have a place on the chopping block.”

John stood, flipped him off, then left.

He got in his car and drove to his “let off steam” spot, high above the city. He could see the people below, like ants they scurried about.

He sat for a long time, talking to no one in particular, but letting off steam.

“I’ve had to deal with all this crap for nearly 6 years,” he said, to the trees and the shrubs overlooking the city, “It’s easy to say what I did wrong and what I did right. I have never had a chance to truly go out and do something of my own.”

He looked up at the sky, laying on the hood of his car, watching clouds pass by quickly.

Maybe the road is not easy, and maybe the prize is small. But after all these years of waiting, I’m gonna show them all. Somehow, someway, I will be able to show Buck, Izzy, and the rest of them that they need someone else to hold their hands.”

“That’s a pretty big pronouncement, John. How do you think you’ll do it?”

John turned over on the hood. He looked down at a pair of shiny black cowboy boots, a pair of long legs squeezed into a pair of jeans, a flannel shirt tied in the front, showing just enough to get a man interested, and finally a face that he would recognize from a long time back.

“So, how did you find me, Miss Eliza Chapman?”

“I knew this place from a long time ago, when you weren’t much of a bass player and more of an introspective poet.”

“Those days are long gone. Apparently, I’m only support staff now.”

Eliza chuckled.

“So, I guess this means you’re not interested in maybe joining a band as a lead man?”

John’s eyes perked up a bit, though he tried to hide it with indifference.

“Who’s looking?”

“Bright Star just lost their bassist and their lead singer. They need to fill both, but they are looking at changing their styles. I figured that you’re probably getting tired of being Izzy Larkin’s personal belch-boy, so I mentioned your name. They seem like they may be interested.”

John looked at her, and invited her up onto the hood of the car.

“Looking out at the city, what do you see?”

“I see a rich environment of people and potentially awesome shows.”

John smiled, as he looked out.

I can hear the roar of a distant crowd. They are waiting for me, they’re shouting out loud. I want to entertain people, give them the ability to forget their problems for a 2-3 hour show. They can’t do that when I have to clean up after Izzy and the others.”

She looked out as well, and nodded.

“Bright Star fired the lead singer for doing too many drugs. They want a straight edge for this next one.”

John looked at her and smiled.

“You’re the manager for them, right?”

“Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”

“I have 5 dates left to play, then I can be free to do what I want.”

“Gives us time to practice, it looks like. We’re going into the studio in about a month to cut the next record. Think you’d be up for moving some of your songs over?”

“Move? No way. I’ll create some new stuff. After these 5 days, I want a clean start. It’s the finality. Get the deal in writing, and we’ll work.”

“How about a preliminary agreement?”

“In what way?”

“The old fashioned way. Sealed with a kiss.”

John chuckled, until he was rolled over onto by Eliza. And given a big kiss.

“I ain’t gonna change my mind, Eliza. But understand, I’m now in business with you. No relationship stuff.”

Eliza smiled, as she sat up on the edge of the car. John looked out at the city, and smiled.

After all the years of waiting, I’m going to show them all.

I Wish It Would Rain Down

by Miles Rost

The Rainbow Bridge glowed at this time of night, the reds, whites, and greens eminating from each of the towers like christmas lights on a tree. The beauty of the bridge shadowed the pain and hurt that was present on its platform.

Yumi sat on the sidewalk of the center span, looking out over the tossing waters of Tokyo Bay. The rain just started as she sat down, and the drops pelted her slowly. It seemed as though even the sky was giving her grief.

She was alone, again.

So this is what Saya felt all those nights ago, she thought, staring at a freighter passing below her, Again, I am alone. When my parents died, I was alone. When I was rude to my sempai, I was alone.

She sniffled, as the rain started to pour down upon her. The storm in her heart was raging, the emotions filling up her heart like a rain barrel. Her body ached, her left index finger most of all. She knew these signs, of what was to happen, and that there was no controlling it.

Why am I always alone?! Why do I do this to my friends? Why do I always hurt like this? I don’t want this! I don’t want this burden!

Her mind panicked, her heart raced, as the sobs she knew were to come finally announced themselves in a groan and a cry of pain. She wrapped her arms around herself as she shifted her body, giving her more room to grieve. The war inside her heart was fierce and intense, and the emotions continued to overflow.

In her mind, a flash of memory shot out from nowhere.

Yumi-chan, you’ve buried your emotions,” Sayaka said, as Yumi remembered the conversation from the previous day, “You show bravery on the outside, but you haven’t reconciled yourself inside. The only person who can change you is Iesu. He’s tough on the heart, but he also shows you that you’re never alone, and that change comes from trusting.”

She looked at Tokyo Bay yet again, and continued sobbing. The pain of her heart joined the pain in her head, feeding her tears. At the same time, another thought pierced her.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.

Sayaka’s voice cut through the anguish of her thoughts, with passages she had read to her earlier in the day.

“These words were from the great King David. He seemed to be like you, in a lot of ways, Yumi-chan. He was stoic, and very ardent in battle. But he had his problems too. And his petition there, that was his confession to God.”

Yumi looked at her now soaked uniform, and the drops of water off the leather tote-bag she carried. Her sobs continued, as she looked at the towers to her sides.

“Kami-sama,” she cried out through her sobs, “I have failed.”

The rain suddenly started pouring heavier, the sounds of thunder in the background calling a chant, seemingly echoing her cries.

“My life has been filled with pain, Father. My parents, my sempai, all those who left me, they gave me nothing but pain. And you, you gave Saya hope. You gave her something that I did not have before, something that I don’t have right now.”

Yumi breathed in a heavy breath, as hail started to fall on the bridge. She stood up, and bent her knee to the concrete. The pain that shot through her knee was temporary, and caused another flood of sobs to come through, even after the pain subsided.

“I don’t want this! I don’t want this burden, this load that I am carrying. Iesu, I want you to carry this with me. I want what you gave Saya those weeks ago. I ask of you to come into my heart, and take the pain, the anger, the strain, and transform them into something that can be used.”

Yumi clutched her fingers until they were white, as her prayers rang out like a tolling bell. The hail continued to fall, as the rain cascaded down like a waterfall.

“Lord…savior…You have the power to make me whole again. Take my life and make it whole, make me the warrior that I was before all these events. In your holy and saving name, Iesu, I pray this…”

A peal of thunder in the background shook the bridge as she held steady. Her cries were done, and she held her ground against the thunder’s call. Her face turned serious, as she uttered the final words.

“Amen.”

As the word rolled off her tongue, a bright bolt of lightning split the sky from north to south. After a minute, the hail stopped as the rain kept falling.

She breathed in the air, the damp rainy air, and looked around at the bridge. As she stood up, the rain slowed down from a waterfall to a steady but barely soaking shower. Yumi was soaked fully, her ponytail hanging low from the weight of the water. Her seifuku was fully drenched, and as she walked back towards Minato-ku, she felt the squish of water in her shoes. Her mind was on other things, though.

She needed to see Sayaka, and she needed to see her right away.

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

Sayaka sat at her table, working on homework. The scrapes of her mechanical pencil as it drew across the paper filled the room with a sound that was previously filled with the sounds of the rain on her roof.

I hope Yumi-chan is okay, she thought, I don’t know why, but it seemed like the only thing that could be done was to let her go off on her own.

She put down her pencil, and reclined back a slight bit, remembering the events that unfolded earlier in the day. She remembered the pain and bewilderment on Yumi’s face, the similar pain and bewilderment she felt weeks before.

“Yu-chan, I hope you haven’t done something crazy…”

At that moment, Sayaka folded her hands and closed her eyes. She felt the need to pray, and the moment for it was then. As she sat there, a picture of peace and patience, she was silent and focused.

Suddenly, a conspicuous knocking at her door caught her attention. With a quick ‘amen’, she stood up, bowed, and walked into the main hosting room to check and see who it was. As she opened up the screen, she was greeted by a soaking wet, crying, and broken Yumi.

“Yumi-chan!”

“Sayaka,” she sniffled, “I didn’t know where to go, but you’re the first person who would understand. So here I am.”

“Come in, come in. You’re soaking wet! Did you walk all the way over from your apartment?”

“I want to tell you everything, but I need something to drink first.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll get you something to drink, and a dry kimono to slip into. Head into my bedroom and wait there.”

Sayaka quickened her steps into the kitchen area, where she started boiling water for tea. As she quickly walked towards her room, she heard sobbing and rushed to see Yumi on the floor, head in hands, letting her tears fall. Sakaya immediately rushed to her closet, grabbed the nearest kimono, and rushed to the fallen girl’s side, giving her a tight hug.

“I’m here, Yumi. I’m here. Just let yourself go, and I’ll take care of you,” she whispered, with concern and warmth. For a short while, she sat with her friend, someone who she never thought would ever look broken, and just let her sob into her shoulder. As the sobs died, Sayaka slowly moved away and looked at Yumi.

“I will be right back. But, when I get back, I need you to tell me everything. In the meantime, put on the kimono.”

Sayaka walked to the kitchen and came back a minute later with the white tea that she always brewed.

“Yumi-chan, tell me everything.”

She sat in front of the small reading table, the dry, greenish-colored kimono wrapped around her cold frame. Her hair was still wet from the rain, but seemed to be starting to dry.

“I…I…” she stammered, as she tried to recollect her thoughts, “After the confrontation, I just started running. I ran…so far away. I was alone, as I usually am. I was so wrapped up with anger and guilt, the memory of my parents and my sempai came back to me. I ended up on the Rainbow Bridge. I actually wanted to jump. I wanted to end it.”

Sayaka’s eyes opened wide, and she gasped slightly.

Yumi told her the full story about what happened on the bridge, not leaving a single crumb of detail behind. In between descriptions, she would cry for a moment, then start speaking again.

“As I left the bridge, I was in shock. My heart was flooded with emotion, but I couldn’t cry. I had nowhere I could really go, nowhere that I could have a safe haven with. So I walked from the bridge to here. The only thing I could think about was talking to you about what happened.”

Sayaka gave her a giant hug, and looked her square in the eye.

“Yu-chan, I’ve been hoping for this for a while. I thought you’d be the most resistant to His message, but now I see you here. You don’t even know how happy I am that you were able to come here and trust me with this.”

“Really?”

“Really. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had anyone that I can trust come visit. But, it’s not just that. You came here after something that you know very few have gone through. This is going to be new for you, and I think that it might be good to have you stay here for the night.”

Yumi looked around, and sighed.

“I think I can do that,” she replied, “I don’t have to be at school early.”

Sayaka smiled, as she sipped her tea.

“At least now I have someone around who doesn’t think I’m crazy.”

Yumi looked at her, and smiled slightly. Then the sneeze hit.

“Oh no. You’re not getting sick!” Sayaka chuckled, as she walked to the bath and started some running water.

While she ran the water and got towels ready, Yumi looked at the Bible that was open above Sayaka’s homework.