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Dedicated to Allison
Submitted by John
At first, there was nothing. Then a dull pain accompanied by a shortness of breath. I wanted to open my eyes, but might as well have tried to lift Mt. Fuji with a pair of old chopsticks. Through the darkness, the groan of Tokyo permeated my mind. It sou nded like one of the video game parlors our boys had spent so much time in - full of sirens and roars.
I might have smiled. Whatever the case, I suddenly knew that Hiroko was kissing my forehead. I couldn't feel her lips, but breathed in the scent of her. Smells have always been reminders to me, more tangible than pictures or diaries. And so I thought of cherry blossoms.
"We're all here," came her whisper. "Please, please come back to us."
I thought of our boys, Akira and Ryotaru. It had been Akira I'd been trying to protect, shielding his body with mine, feeling my insides ripple as the bus threw me. Before everything went dim I'd seen him walk away, knew he'd grow to be strong and wise.
"Come back," she pleaded, tears in her voice.
How I wanted to hold her, to stroke my finger across her jaw. But I was pulled away. Something in me shuddered and was still. I heard her mutter my name, tell me the depth of her love. Then the darkness turned to light and I saw us on an empty beach. Lush mountains loomed above us. The sea stretched like an endless blue canvas, undulating and alive. I twisted the sands of Hawaii between my toes, pleased that we'd come here for our honeymoon.
Hiroko drew herself to me. Seeing her beauty, knowing the completeness of her character, I realized that I didn't deserve her. That somehow the universe had blundered, pairing a crane with a cricket. I savored every contour of her face, thankful to be sharing my life with her, in awe that she would be the mother of our children.
Sand departed swiftly as other memories dawned. I saw her planting irises, practicing calligraphy. She videotaped me showing the twins how to ride a bike. She was always laughing; her smile like a thousand setting suns.
But then the darkness stole her from me. I wanted to cry out, to stop her from leaving. But there was nothing.