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Chapter Fifteen: Sad to Say

February 4, 2011

You don’t even turn back, and I feel devastated.

The winds grow stronger, now, but the crowd is not moving an inch. The icy rain starts to bead on our faces like pellets. I am crying, and swearing under my breath.

Bastard…! I think to myself. The sunrise is so important that you would abandon me for a glimpse from the top. A part of me is hurt, betrayed, and another defensive, coldly rational part is trying to explain why this happened.

He doesn’t know me, I hardly know him. For him, reaching the summit and feeling that morning sun on his face is more important than feeling my hand in his. Fucker! Asshole! TRAITOR!!

The whispered words hang uselessly in the air, and disperse in the wind.

It’s OK, it’s OK, I tell myself, hyperventilating. Don’t take it personally. This Josef, you have only known him a month, he is not even a close friend.

But the memory of you kissing me just before we started climbing keeps coming up in my mind, and tears blur my vision. I am ashamed to think how completely I had fallen for your show of gallantry, of chivalry. All an empty farce…The realization hits me:

You cannot be counted on. You are big and strong and intelligent, but I cannot count on you to protect me.

Try as I might to be calm, and unemotional, the cold wind, the unmoving crowd of strangers, the winds and rain take their toll on me. I am knocked down several times as we inch ahead at an unbearably slow pace, several steps at a time, then a minute of complete immobility. I cannot feel my fingers anymore — they itch like crazy and are puffed up, swollen.  As I start scratching my fingers raw with my nails, while the tears streaming down my face. I feel alone. The more time passes, the more I am thrown off balance, and by the time we finally reach through the fog to the summit, my nerves are completely shot.  At this time, I just want to leave — I feel like my heart has been gutted, and my eyes glare at all the climbers who blocked the path for so long, I glare at the fog, cursing everything in sight.

“Yuki! Yuki!” You shout, running up to me.

When I see you, my mind doesn’t register you at first — I push you away violently, and walk around zombie-like, with no particular direction.

You grab me again, or say something, I do not remember, but I am still unable to communicate — I shout some incoherent words, muttering “fuck you,” and you say something like you were looking for me, that you stayed and waited for me awhile, but went ahead after you could not find me, and figured we would both meet at the summit.

Probably, this made perfect sense to you at the time. But I am furious, outraged and disillusioned. I am your girl…am I not? What do you take me for, expecting me to fend for myself, alone in this furious wind and ice?

You invite me to eat something. I want to refuse, to spit in your face, but I am also deathly hungry and feeling ill from the cold. I need something immediately, and there is nothing to eat…except Ramen.

It seems to be the only thing available at the summit-hut, crowded with climbers. Still in a zombie state, I sit down, angrily, and order cheap oden while you have ramen. We eat, letting the ceramic bowl warm our fingers. Somewhere within that time, I seem to have snapped a photo of you, holding up your ramen.

Our descent  —- I shuddered to think we had to climb back down —- was the same as before, you forging ahead, out of my sight and becoming smaller and smaller like a dot on the horizon, taking giant steps on the dirt road while I trudged slowly down, cursing like mad, trying to reason that this was just an experience.

I will go straight back to Shinjuku, alone, I told myself. When this is all through, I don’t even want to see your face anymore. Anger bubbles at boiling point inside my chest, and I can feel my hair going white with silent resentment. In the ending few kilometres, you wait up for me, and I ask you to not walk ahead of me for the duration of the trip. But my face is drained of expression, I am so angry and do not want to be in your presence.

On the way back, staring emptily at the black windows of the Yamanote line, I wonder if I should propose that you find a new traveling companion, a strong-legged European girl who can keep up with your pace, someone who won’t slow you down. But then I think back to your patience with me during our first dates, how you hugged me and made me feel wanted even after I screwed up. You had something, a spirit that I loved, and surely this Fujisan experience was just one minor storm, not worth jumping ship over. Seeing the Tokyo nightscape through blurry eyes, I tell myself that you didn’t give up on me when I made a mistake, so I’m not going to give up on you either.

******

For the short while after our descent from Fuji-san, I remained dazed and cautious, not wanting to get too close — it feels like a controlled experiment, where I consciously put my hand through fire to find out how long it will be before my skin will burn off.

 

I arrive home, a sense of cold dread washing over me as I insert my keys into the dingy wooden door in the cold basement. Opening the door, I am greeted by pitch black darkness. The cold fluorescent light. The

But even as my guard is on, I find I am, for no particular reason, utterly thrilled whenever we meet. For the first time, I believe I understand what dogs feel like — you are not my owner, but it’s that same strange, unquestioning sense of joy in my heart when you are near.

Probably due to my drab existence in Tokyo, my life lights up when you come into view. The way you stroke my head, extend your hand out ever so slightly to the side to invite me to place my hands to join yours, the way you hug me close when we wait at the traffic lights, or snuggle on the sheets, watching TV shows from your screen — all of these are minutes and seconds that register in my mind as crystal —

I know I cannot trust you. And yet I cannot afford to alienate you.

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