“There is so much that we cannot know and cannot control that we should not think and behave as if we do know and can control”
If people weren’t constantly changing,
then we would have all the time in the world.
But they are.
One day you might be you, and the next you might be someone else.
I live in fear
thinking that one day I might see you
and not see you.
That I might notice the shell of the person I used to know
but miss the connection we once shared.
So let’s not wait until we’re two different people,
and make this moment
that you’re you,
and I’m me,
No, I’ve never been in love.
I’ve never experienced that blinding light
That poets always describe
When witnessing the smile of their beloved,
As if the sky cracked open every time their lips parted,
And unleashed the holy heavens upon this blessed love-struck individual.
I’ve never felt the rapidly increasing beat of my heart,
Crashing against the entrapment of my ribs,
Begging to be unleashed
For the sole reason of proving to my love
That yes, it beats only for him.
I’ve also never felt that burning under the skin,
That sickly sensation described as jealousy,
When witnessing my beloved
Slowly fall for the Aphrodite seated across from him,
Her words weaving a web of seduction too enticing to resist.
I’ve never been burning with anger over a love lost to another,
I’ve never cried for days over a love not reciprocated,
I’ve never had to fear the day my love leaves and never returns,
And I’ve never spent a day of my life,
Fully content to be with the person I love.
But, maybe love isn’t worth all of the trouble anyway.
As the debris settled and they could finally see each other without the burdensome lens of the world clouding their vision, the two stare in silence, waiting for the end to start all over again.
* * *
She reaches her hand out to Koizumi, knowing he won’t take it again. This was no longer just a natural disaster that forever changed their lives. It became so much more, so quickly.
* * *
They hear the screams before they feel the earth shiver, then quake beneath their feet. After a fraction of a second of utter stillness, they started moving. The things they thought were important were snatched up, the barest essentials of foods bagged before they leave what was once a shared home. The earth becomes fiercely disturbed and they’re sure that all of Japan is going to be thrust off the face of the planet.
* * *
High ground is not in site when the water comes into view. The buildings are already knocked from their perches above, only mere rubbish remaining in the aftermath. They shake as if caught in the viselike grip of God, tumbling from the top down as man’s work is felled by an entity bearing so much more power.
* * *
Seeing the wall of black liquid growing in the distance, Koizumi looks forward and knows the traffic heading toward safety would ensure their ensnarement in the living, watery Tartarus that only continues to grow in the rearview mirror. Words aren’t fast enough when death is on the cusp of one’s life, so he yanks on her arm, gesturing to her door before surging his own wide open. When he turns back, she is almost around the front of the car, her hands outstretched toward him in a silent, anguished call for comfort.
* * *
They do not hear the sound of the water as it comes crashing down upon the land. What they hear instead is the sound of the souls as they ascend, a collection of whispers that grows to a singular roar, deafening to the ears of the still-living.
* * *
As the water chases them, he takes hold of her hands and all but falls into the closest form of shelter, a worn building with what looks to be just enough height to save them. They climb the old staircase, others following closely behind, the black water continuing to rise with them. It is only when they reach the rooftop level, brake through the door and look down at the ravaged world below do they realize that escaping the onward rush of ocean is only the beginning of their worries.
* * *
The building begins to sag and drift like a willow in the breeze, leaning far to one side before breaking off completely and crumbling. The others who had clambered their way up start to scream. The wails add unnecessary noise in the background as the two cling to each other with unspoken sorrow bitter on their closed lips. The floor continues to crack, their bodies rocked with unceremonious force as they are tossed to the ground, their little sliver of shelter separating from the rest as they are carried off in the wake of the tsunami.
* * *
Watashi dachinouch, she says. Our home.
He looks at her, and beneath the agony, there is something else. Rather, it is the lack thereof that catches his attention. Because, beneath the loss, Koizumi knows there is an emptiness which has nothing to do with the havoc surrounding them. He looks at his fiancé and he knows, from that simple sentence, that they never had a home together.
Nani-koudesu ka? What home?
* * *
It was easy to remember the good times they had lost along with their shared living space. The day he had fallen so ill he could barely see the rose in her cheeks as she laid herself beside him, one of her hands wrapped around his as the other dipped into a bucket of ice water, plunging a washcloth up and down before wringing it out and placing it gently on his forehead. On. And off. Until he drifted to sleep. Or the day he bought her new speakers and she turned the dial to the maximum volume before playing her favorite, terrible American music. The way she had danced, jumping on their cool grey sofas as she sang about love made him feel like a teenager again. And then, when the landlord came banging on the door, multitudes of disgruntled neighbors lined up close behind him, Koizumi wondered at how young and uncaring she really could make him feel as they were harangued.
* * *
But, it seemed as if there was always more bad to outweigh the good in their relationship. The way she’d sit on the balcony, a cup of tea cradled in both hands, looking out over the landscape as her mind fled so far away. She was unhappy, and he knew it. Some nights she’d slip into bed, her body cold from the night air, but her hands, then pressed up against the wall of his back, he knew were warm from the unknown man that had held them close to his heart as they said their goodbyes in the shadow of the alley just beside the building. That same warmth which emanated from her palms into his back had made his brow sweat, angry and hurt and scared as he was. It was only that small, cold part of him which consistently raised questions and doubts of his own self worth that stopped him from deserting the bed and the fragile sense of comfort that came with it. With her. Because that small part of Koizumi felt it necessary to reiterate that maybe, she was the best he was ever going to get. Maybe, that half-hearted love was exactly the kind he deserved.
* * *
Home. It was a nice thought, to think he had created one with this woman who now looked at him like he was her world. Because, in that moment, he was. They drifted on their solitary piece of space, and that may as well be their universe. But, at some point, the water will drain away, and they will once again be a part of a greater world, one that involves more than just the two of them. In that reality, Koizumi knows that they can no longer pretend that their hopes of a future with each other are not a danger to the existence of their individual happiness. It was a nice dream, thinking that they could spend tomorrow together in that home, clueless of their vast differences, preparing for forever. It would never come to fruition.
* * *
Japan suffered a monumental blow today. However, the entire world would not come to an end. But theirs will.
* * *
Koizumi looks at that once-beloved hand and begins to cry.
no matter how deep you dig into me,
you won’t get to her.
but each time you try,
and each time you apologize.
no amount of your “sorry’s” could ever fill the emptiness you plowed inside of me.
You ever look into broken glass and stare at your fragmented reflection. You can kind of see yourself as you were in the womb, before you were an embryo even, only a collection of particles that had not yet come together to form something. You can pick out the things you dislike most the easiest: little piggy nose, that scar just above your left eye, that fine moustache hair highlighted by your poorly-applied foundation. Ugly fuck lol. Imagining these faults removed, no longer parts to the picture. That’s a nice thought.
No matter how you fuss about the things you don’t want, though, the things you don’t understand, you will eventually find yourself facing a non-shitty, fully functional mirror and encounter yourself again. Whole. Whatever that means. You see the person you know staring back at you, the you you’ve known yourself to be before you became someone else, someone with splintered veins crawling up the expanse of their skin and eyes that see more of the empty spaces they wish were there than the truth. The person you think has finally come back to being you.
You’re you even when you’re broken.