The weight of the coffee mug was ultimately the heaviest thing. Eyes darting to the already cool black pools as she drank, her heart pounding with a force that could only be felt when one sees a hammer slammed against an anvil. There should not be a drop of the cool coffee spilling across the semblance of that clean white cut envelope. Her eyes narrowed, the cup clicking against the surface of the small cold plate. The question echoed in her head like it was something that had not been already obvious?
‘Does it matter if I spill anything on it or not?’
There was that hesitance to send her the cool loneliness of the envelope’s edges, as it lay there not too far from her with quiet abandon. It was too early in the morning, the light of the morning dawn had not even echoed with a blissful glow. But she could not sleep.
Nor could she feel comfort in her heart. No calm in the night, even if the moon whispers nothing but sweet things to lull her to land into a dream. Because only nightmares came. Nightmares that were made of the sweetest smiles and even more so, the sweetest goodbyes.
Somehow, her own warm bed had become an antagonist. In the comforts of the cool feather bed, it was like she was wallowing down into a hell pit of quick sand with no escape. It did not help to stay here, looking at the ceiling all alone in the comfort of this empty bed.
Her husband wasn’t always around, he was a merchant by trade. But she did not think of him as much as she thought of her. How much she had remembered all those years, of being in her arms. This lonesome bed trapped her. Standing up, there was no feeling of coherence. It had been all a blur, an endless darkness that cleared her, leaving nothing but a void.
Stumbling as she walked through her kitchen to grab the warm water pitcher, her hands had been weak. There was no sound that came out of her, there was no action that had been done to prevent the scattering of broken glass. Rather, she stared. Stared as the overflowing of the water seeped through like the force of the deluge against the shattered pieces of glass.
“What am I doing this for?” Her red lips let out a soft groan, bowing her head down in the sublime air. Her bright sunflower colored cloche followed, hiding her eyes away. “There is no more things to say anyway….I’ve been doing so well.”
And yet, without hesistation — she could not take her eyes off the envelope, as it tempted her bare fingers to feel the warmth of the words she had changed inside. Her index finger made the march forward, determined. In that moment, the shine of the golden band on her ring finger exposed her in a reprimanding beam. Her heart beat as she paused.
Biting her lip, the command of her nerves forced the determined soldier backward. There was no reason to be tempted, she had made her peace with all of this a long time ago. Under the lowering of the light that dimly shines, the shadows of her features echoes like a ghost that begs to finally be laid to rest.
But like that ghost, she realizes, she has been tethered to the barren ground. To wander through the life that she could have had, to haunt her like her into a misery like a haunting bestiality that never ends. A perpetual hell repeating over and over. Inching her hands together in a bond, she felt the endless cool that one could only feel in the winter’s grasp. Has it been like this for all this time after they hard parted? After watching her grow into her own? After years that had built a different branch on their trees?
The life that dwelled in spring had long past. Where the tender smiles that she gave her made her heart beat in the joy that comes with young love. It was the way she laughed as ran the length of the flower fields with the wandering gaze of the rainbow’s glisten. The doe eyes gazing at her like the eyes of sunflower beams.
The warm words that came out like beautiful echoes of a hummingbird’s songs. There had been the warmth breeze that kissed her skin, just as the gentle touch of hands wrapped around her with such delight, the delight of being together as the sound of the river’s calm whistles. There was no better feeling, where your blood rushes through the flesh and into the caverns of your heart
It all came rushing back every time she walked the places they had roamed, arms locked together. No one suspected them. The eyes that were only for one another. There was an echo that dwelled in the depths of her heart that called out to her, that whispered in such a painful voice; a voice she did not even remember she had, ‘I miss the person we once were — such shining glory in the morning sun, when we had loved her.’
“But it is too late.” The biting of her lips was enough to cause a break across the lower lines of her lips. But it did not matter. She did not want to cry. She had no reason to cry. There had been too many tears already shed a long time ago. “It doesn’t matter now.”
There was something so poignant to reminisce the spring. Because spring gives us the semblance of youth that can only come once. The flowers in that spring especially blossomed, along so with the love that they both once thought impossible.
However, spring always needs to give way to the birth of autumn. It was already autumn, an autumn where the coldest rain is eagerly waiting to freeze into the battering winter cold. One where she now lives alone. Alone to reminisce what once was and what could have been in the present that only gifts her misery.
When she told her that she cannot be with her anymore, it was the most horrid moment of her life. They sat on the bed they had once shared, the sunlight dimmed by the venomous dark clouds gathering to behold such a moment. But she could remember the space that happened to gather between them. A wedge that only became so obvious in that moment.
The tears welled up in her eyes as she sat there frozen. Her notoriously loud mouth was quiet for once — because there were no words to be said. Her mind could not process that moment. It had not hit her that everything had changed into a reality she did not want to be a part of. Because as every words flowed like an aggravated sea, the words lined up in the past tense. The past tense that was never supposed to be heard in a reality that was meant for love.
She moved out of that apartment the very next day, eyes red from the tears that did not stop from falling. She had thrown away the sheets that filled with the dark shades of her destroyed make-up scrambling across her face like a storm ravaging the ground. She did not want to be reminded of it. To her, that life had not existed anymore. There was only now — where she had to rebuild her life once more. As lonesome as the dead trees shaved from the leaves that once adorned their branches.
Moving into a small studio apartment in the foreign quarters of the city, the diversity of each and every space had made her feel like she was no longer in the same city as her. There was a vibrance of watching immigrants walking the streets every day, bags in hand as they gathered to start a new life like she had done. In a way, this moment everyday sustained her. In a way made her feel that day by day, she was not the only one moving towards a new moment in life — that life still does go on beyond that moment where we shattered.
She had always been interested in pottery, but there had never truly been an opportunity for her to live that life. The materials were inaccessible and the knowledge she needed was well far away, in the side of the city she did not want to return to. Money was just as hard to have in times like these, recovering from the market crash all those years before. Even now, her job at the local pharmacy had barely been enough to make ends meet just for herself.
In that cold winter morning in January, she met an old man who had come from Japan only a few months before. He had moved to the country decades before, but his wife had passed recently and his only child had been wanting to take care of his father, so that he would not be alone.
The neighbor, Jin, had been kind to her when she had first arrived — even helping her with her luggage. He had always smiled at her with his thin lips, blossoming craters upon his cheeks. She was a little bit taller than him, but he had been a bigger man in frame and boy. But she had never once not felt discomfort with him.From then on, she had always been aided by him. That’s why she had felt as though she too would like to return the favor.
She had conversed with him, when the father had no company in the building commune. Jin had sent her a telegram saying that he would be home later tomorrow, the trains having had a mishap. Jin had told her that his father had been melancholic after his mother had passed away and was saddened he could not always be there because of work. Stepping up to aid, she had promised to be there for his father, as she only worked up until early afternoon.
She had not known Japanese, and he was the same with English. He seemed to know what she had been saying though, smiling when she told him good things that happened in her day to day. But for the most part, they created a language through actions. Just by sitting together to enjoy the warmth of the small fireplace in her apartment. It was enough to have someone.
Jin’s father had been someone who had been a ceramic artist when he had been younger in Japan. Jin had told her that it had been part of their family’s history. It peaked her interests for the most part, watching Jin’s father show her the ceramics he had taken with him from Japan. Ones he had made by his own hand. One in particular taken her interests — golden streaks echoed through the plate like a a golden river. When she turned a moment later to ask, she had gotten the reply.
“Kintsugi.” Jin translated for his father, gazing at her with a small smile.
She gazed at him questioningly. “What is that?”
Jin’s father gazed at her with warm almond eyes and smiled at her, speaking in broken English, “Fix….broken plate. Fix, gold. Make new, make new you. Life.”
For a moment she blinked, stunned that he had gathered himself in that moment to speak English as hard as he can. But as she looked at Jin, his smile went even wider. He nodded at her. “A new life?”
Jin’s father spoke again and looked at his son. Jin expressed his father’s words in the warmest of senses, “My father said, all that is broken — is not truly broken. It is just waiting to find a way to be alive again. That is why we fix it with gold. There is always a new path to walk on again.”
That moment made her heart beat fast, almost as though she had been waiting all her life for those words to be told to her. Somehow, the warm words of simple comfort were more than the warmth the fire burning in the room. It was the truest warmth against winter. Tears slowly beckoned itself at the side of her eyes and the father and son looked at her in worry. Smiling at them, she whispered; “Thank you.”
In that upcoming March — she had ended up getting lessons from Jin’s father on pottery. It had been a pleasant time, having to spend carelessly after work in the springs of stories, of myths and of time gone by that had suddenly made her forget about the mournful heartbreak. In a moment as she dipped her hands in the cold pools in the bowl, she did not remember how lost she had been when the autumn rains poured outside her window — mourning what had already been lost.
No, now in this moment — she felt happy. She felt contented in the already small space crowding in the wonder of sketches across the battered walls. The round table being full of drying plaster vase, letting the hot sun beckon it frozen in the summer heat. The smell of charcoal gathering across her blackened fingers, as she rubbed them against the planned design. In that moment, the new path had become dipped in gold. And for that, she was grateful.
Then that mail came.
“Are you alright?” Jin gazed at his wife of two years worriedly, abandoning his work on the pleat of his tailored suit. She had been tearing up, still staring at the letter. Putting his soft hands against her shoulder, the shine of the ring finger beckoned against the early dawn. “Sarah, あなた — “
“It’s nothing.” She whispered to him, wiping away her tears and hid the card onto her dresser. “Just someone I used to know.”
His gaze beckoned at her worriedly. “Are you sure? It’s nothing bad, is it?”
“No, we just….fell apart. That’s all.” She gave him a small smile. But his eyes could see that the light in his wife’s eyes were dim. “They just wanted me to come to meet with them….For tea and such. Like the old days.”
“I see.” He did not want to overwhelm his wife by asking. He pursed his lips and turned to her, putting his hands on her face. Rubbing her cheeks, he tried to comfort her with his touch.
But she turned her face slightly away from him. “It’s just that. It’s not that important.”
The line across his lips deepened. “You don’t have to go, if you do not want to. We can just go on a trip somewhere, we’ll take father. He’d like to go fish, I feel.”
“I just….” She could not find the words to say. Her heart beating fast, she clutched her hands onto it as though to beg for it to stop. “I’ll decide later….it will still be some time till then anyway.”
He sighed, putting his hands on her shoulders and then her arms. Moving close to her, he allowed his body to caress her. She had rested her head onto his shoulders, quietly accepting his comfort.
They had stayed that way for a while, Jin knowing he would have to leave in a couple of minutes. He indulged himself to comfort her in this time, when he would not see her for a couple of days at most. He needed to be with her. In all times he can be there, he will be. It was the least he could do, after being so far away from her all this time. He loved her with all his heart, after all.
“I’ll be back before your museum exhibit.” He tells her, carressing her long spread of hair tenderly. “I’ll hurriedly finish work. Bring flowers too.”
She let out a small laugh. “I’ll look forward to it.”
When they parted, he placed a kiss onto her temple and then her cheek. Finally he let his lips gather themselves around her own and tenderly embraced her. Before long, they parted and stared at each other’s eyes. He bid her farewell with a tender kiss on her hand, promising to return to her and she gave him a smile, wishing him to be careful.
As the space left only her, tears fell from her eyes. Heavy tears rushed like an endless wave in a soundless collapse of her body on the floor. Her arms gathered across her shoulder blades, shaking as she embraced herself.
All the feelings she had felt then, that she still felt — came rushing back like lightening snapping against the soil. It had all came back. And she could not help it. She could not help it. Because she still loved her. She still wanted to be with her. But that was never going to happen now.
When nightfall came that night, after seeing her father in law to bed, her restless abandon in the pool of reminiscing tears beckoned her awake. And here in this lonesome space, with this letter — this letter that shouldn’t even exist. She was now living a dream, a dream of stability. Where her life was spent in work of art, with a loving husband to comfort her and a doting father in law who encouraged her. But all she could think about, all day — was a love lost in the time which never let it continued to exist.
Reeling in a moment of rewind, the words in the card made her feel like she was going to burst into tears once again. The woman she had loved, that she still loves — has been married for all this time. Five long years. It had been arranged by their wealthy upper class families. And that she had seen her from afar, at a party in the city with Jin at his work place. Jin knew her husband, she says. She had been looking for her, had been wanting to see her again. Even for a moment. That she had a child, a girl. A girl she too named Sarah. Named after someone she had always, always dearly loved.
It had broken her. To read it over and over again. To see a small photograph of her beloved with a child on her arms with the same bright eyes as her mother. Those eyes she had so loved, eyes that had always haunted her dreams every night she went to sleep. Taking a deep breath, her face contorted in painful sorrow. She looked at her cold coffee, the brim still full with little change. It had reminded her of her own feelings. She loved Jin, she does. But there would be no one like her beloved Dora. Her Theodora. Even if that still continued to hurt.
But it was all over. She cannot bear suffering like this anymore. Suffering for a parting that would never find another meeting. It cannot be like this. Sarah thought to herself. You have a life now. A different life. It is unfair to Jin. It is unfair to her. Taking a shaky breathe now, her hands took the envelope.
Biting her full lips, she felt the tears rush suddenly as she eyed the envelope with eyes that were bidding farewell. A sharp sound released from her as the shaking hands joined together and in one moment, cut through the coherence to unrecognizable pieces that would never be whole again.
Gathering them in her arms, she let the tears continue to fall as she stood. When she came near the garbage disposal, she closed her eyes as though she was mourning a death. A death that could never be forgotten. A death that would scar her forever. Gazing at the pieces, she whispered apologies. She whispered painful goodbyes. But most of all, she whispered words of love for the last time. Moments later, she watched as her body moved on its own and threw them away.
As she paid for the coffee, she took her gloves onto her hands once againd and her hat back onto her small head. The tears had dried and her heart was numbed. But this was for the best. Her father in law would be awake soon and she must make him breakfast. Walking down the dimly lit streets, she felt the cold wind rush through her covered body and wondered if it was god consoling her. That he approved of what she had done. Her lips let out a lonesome sigh, gloved hands onto her coat’s pockets.
“It was nothing.”She whispered to the solemn air. “It was just what it was.”
Sarah smiled and took a pause as she saw a falling star.
“I’m living well.”