2008-12-30

A simple story - their story (06) (END)


(DATE: April 2015)


At 30, Yossi was now the owner of a restaurant—an eatery which sells western cuisine and one which she co-runs with her mother. It was a humble business. One that wasn’t making a lot of money nor was it losing any neither. She had started the business four years before, thinking of just passing time and keeping herself occupied since she couldn’t think of what else to do.

It all happened six years ago when her artiste career had ended prematurely after her agency had suddenly gone bust, and for a long long time after she had found herself remaining jobless. She had tried to approach other agencies to take her in but they had turned her down, and when she had finally decided to leave showbiz and settle for simple OL jobs, she was politely that she was under-qualified. The rejections were shocking and discouraging but she knew she deserved it—it was the price she had to pay for compromising her paper qualifications when she chose to join showbiz at a young age of 15. She began to feel useless and before long, she was diagnosed to be suffering from depression. The illness worried her parents more than her and they had suggested she start a small business with the money she had saved over the years. She did, was glad that she did and felt depressed no more. And now she was grateful to her parents; her life had gone back to normal.

Still there were times when she would reminisce about her past, not for the expired glamour and fame of being a celebrity but for the happy times she had spent her teenage days and sadly too, the missed chances with her loved one. Fifteen years, that was how long she had known her. And for all these years, she had kept her feelings hidden; all because she was afraid. And she never stopped hating herself for her cowardice, for it was precisely this ‘afraid’ that was keeping them apart even till this day.

Her heart ached. She would feel this similar pain almost everyday, when she had to walk down the long stretch of shops in the shopping district to get to her restaurant. It was quiet times like these, walking alone, that set her mind wandering, making her think of the past. And she hated it. She wished she would stop the tormenting thoughts, but she couldn’t. Sometimes, she had foolishly thought time would blur the memories, easing her pain, but with each passing day, it became more evident that she was still missing her badly.

And life was ironic. Despite the years that made her learn not to be afraid anymore, fate had turned cruel; they had lost contact. If only she had a wish now, she would turn back the clock; she wouldn’t be afraid anymore and maybe, just maybe, things might end up differently.

She stopped in her tracks. Have God just heard her pleas?

She blinked and squinted then her heart stopped…

Indeed, God had heard her…

There she was, just ten metres away…

She couldn’t believe her eyes. She looked up in the sky and smiled.

Yes, Lady Luck was shining at her…
Yes, God had not forsaken her…

But when she saw the child in her arms she stopped smiling. She realised she had interpreted God wrongly. True, God had heard her but it seemed God had simply sympathized with her. God had hoped she would give up, thus arranging them to meet again… but in this way.

After six long years, after a fleeting moment of renewed hope, this was to be their ending.

Yossi closed her eyes, feeling distinctively her heart bleeding. No doubt she had longed to see her again, but now as she had, the truth was too much to bear—Rika was married. Perhaps it was now time for her to end this unrequited love. Quickly choosing a different path, Yossi hastened away, feeling the need to get away fast, fearing her legs would find no strength to do so or…

“Yossi?”

Yossi pretended she hadn’t heard Rika calling out to her.

“Yossi? Yossi?”

Rika’s voice was becoming louder and when Yossi heard footsteps running toward her, she stopped. She had to. She couldn’t bear the thought of her friend running with a child in her arms; it would be dangerous. So, she put on a smile and turned around. “Ishikawa?”

Un~ sono tori desu~

Hearing the cheerful voice and seeing the gleaming smile bring back nostalgic feelings, and Yossi couldn’t help but notice how beautifully Rika had aged. It made her lonely heart stir and at the same time, sad.

Aa~ ohisashiburi desu,” Yossi replied, trying to act surprised and happy. But when she saw how the cute child looked very much like her mother, a sad pang pierced her heart.

“Why are you here?” asked Rika, who still couldn’t hide her excitement at meeting her old friend.

“Oh, I work here,” said Yossi, pointing in the direction where she was heading.

“Where?” Rika asked again while she hoisted the child in her arms gently for a better grip.

The display of motherly love set off another tinge of sadness in Yossi. She tried not to let it show but knew her façade would collapse any time especially if she would to stay and look longer and be reminded of the lucky guy Rika’s happily married to. “A restaurant down this stretch,” she said. And then she pretended to check the time on her wrist watch. “I’m running late. Need to go…ermm… maybe next time—”

“But we just met,” Rika cut in, looking intensely at Yossi. “I… I’ve been trying to find you all these years. You just disappeared…”

Yossi’s eyes darted away. Her strong front was wavering and she knew she shouldn’t stay any longer. “Well…” she said. “We’ve met now. And I’m glad to know you’re living well.” She put on her best smile, still avoiding looking at Rika and her child. “I really need to go.” When she saw how Rika’s lips had worked into a pout she knew she was being ungraciously ‘nasty’… She thought for a moment and fished out her wallet. After pulling out a name card she handed it to Rika. “My contact, call me when you’re free,” she said tersely. But deep inside, she was hoping she would never see or hear from Rika again. There’s no point any more—she didn’t want to get more hurt.

When Rika said no more Yossi bade goodbye and turned to walk away, but her heart tore; this was to be their last farewell, despite them meeting again after six years. She quickened her steps and when she felt Rika have lost her in the crowd, she slowed down. Is this what I want? No… but what should I expect? She had moved on, I should too, she thought.

Nevertheless, she couldn’t help but feel lousy. She realised her limbs had gone numb, her chest was becoming hard of breathing and she felt like dying. Although she had come to her restaurant she just walked on and past it. She just wanted to keep walking, until her legs tired out or until her breath passed out, and hopefully she would feel the pain no more…

So, she treaded up and down the same street, and she had no idea how long she’d been doing it when she heard the familiar voice again.

“YOSHIZAWA!”

She stopped. Even from the single word, she could sense the anger and worry in the tone. She quickly turned around and immediately hated her own weakness. It surprised her she was actually happy to be able to see Rika again. Such is her weakness.

“Where are you going?” Rika asked as she quickly caught up with Yossi. “I just went to your restaurant and they said you weren’t back.”

“I…” Yossi stammered.

“I think…” Rika said as she took a step closer to Yossi. “There is a misunderstanding…”

When Yossi backed away brusquely Rika was hurt but she braced herself. “Your mom told me to find and get you back.”

The surprise in Yossi was evident. “You’ve met my mother?”

“Yeah, and she said when I get you back, you’ll have to give me a treat.”

Yossi thought it was a great joke. “Only you?” she mumbled under her breath. Then she realised Rika wasn’t with her child. “Where your son?” she asked audibly.

There was a mischievous glint when Rika smiled. “Oh! You mean my nephew? He is with his mother now.”

Yossi looked up, surprised.

Rika wasted no time to explain. “After my sister returned from the washroom, I told her I’d met you and she knew immediately that I wanted to go find you. So… here I am.”

The words sounded heavenly and Yossi unconsciously leaked a smile, but she suddenly turned solemn again. “But… you do have your own kids, right?”

Rika giggled. “That’s tough, considering I’m still left on the shelf. What about you?” she asked cautiously.

“I’m STILL single,” Yossi blurted out. When she saw how Rika was laughing at her eager reply, she paused for a moment to think. Then it dawned on her—she had misunderstood things. She couldn’t hold back her joy and broke out into laughter, feeling silly and at the same time, relieved. She could feel Hope beaming at her again…

Rika continued to laugh. She knew Yossi had misunderstood her. She knew it the moment when Yossi had walked away sadly and her nephew had begun to cry looking for his mother, she found a connect between the two matters almost immediately.

Rika stepped forward and this time, Yossi didn’t try to back away but was looking back intensely. Rika shied away. She could sense something more in those eyes, something she too, was feeling. She struggled a little before speaking. “You know, I really mean it when I said I was trying to find you all these years.” As soon as the words left her mouth, the area around her eyes began to feel warm. She looked up, trying to keep her emotions in check. A tear flowed when Yossi leaned closer.

“And these years…” Yossi took Rika’s hands in hers. “I’ve been praying…”


4 comments:

young link107 said...

Hey Kata, I didn't realize this story was a re-written version of "their story" until I read this last chapter and I also didn't realize the story name *I'm such an airhead* I've noticed te changes :)

katatsumuri said...

haha~ You are blur ^___^

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