Bittersweet Berrystraw


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She rushed up the stairs, crying every step of the way. He followed her soon after, calling her name. He found her standing, starting to pack.

“Where are you going?”

She gave no reply. He could see her eyes, red and swollen as they were, as tears ran down from her cheek to her chin. The shirt she was wearing, his shirt, was drenched. He looked at her and all his anger from moments ago was gone without a trace. He could feel tears welling up inside him. He barely managed to hold them in.

Slowly she pulled her clothes one by one from underneath his neatly folded clothes, all mixed up in an olive-green wardrobe. He stepped closer and wrapped his arms around her waist. She dropped the clothes she was holding onto the floor. Tense, she started wailing.

The cold walls surrounding them seemed to be listening in silence. As ridiculous as it was, the first thought that crossed his mind was whether the neighbors too, were listening. It was, however, soon replaced by another – he had never seen her this miserable before. He realized it was by far the most intense moment they had ever shared together.

She squeezed out of his arms and threw herself on the bed. Tears were dripping from her eyes onto the pitch black sheets. Her make-up was ruined but sorrow kept her from caring. He sat beside her, yet she continued sobbing as if gasping for air. Her whole body trembled, as if she was struggling from drowning in her own tears.

He held her hands and said nothing. Her sorrow dissipated, but he failed to notice. His mind was occupied, searching for the right words of comfort, in vain. Even if he did manage to find the right words, they would simply vanish into the void between them, unable to reach her.

At that moment, the tears he so gallantly tried to keep in, began to seep through whatever wall he had built around himself. One by one teardrops crawled out of the corners of his eyes and shattered his composure. And soon he started to sob. Voices in his head clashed as they resonated contradicting messages.

“No, you can’t cry now. Boys shouldn’t cry.”

“Just let go, just this once. You’re just human, after all. It’s all been harsh on you.”

Teardrops must have a mind of their own. Slowly but surely they regenerated and regenerated before merging into a stream that ran down his face. Finally he embraced her and broke into sobs. Did anybody care about their futile struggle? To them, the world seemed to have paused in perfect silence – as if they were transported into an entirely different dimension. One that was solely inhabited by darkness, where nothing was audible. Where sounds would travel for eternities and yet still reach no soul.

It was her who broke the silence. She spoke gently as she caressed him and ran her fingers through his hair, which now looked messy.

“Don’t cry, okay?” her voice betrayed frailty, no matter how desperately she tried to sound strong.

“It’s just that…” he began, “I try to be positive for both of us. But sometimes it tires me. I care about you and I don’t want you to feel sad.”

Then he ceased to cry abruptly and let go of her. He stood up and simply remained still for a while. Right on cue, the streets sprang alive. Sirens passed by. Trams made the ground tremble. Even the tick of the clock downstairs was perfectly audible. Along with every tick, his mind started to clear up and soon he regained control.

She still had not moved. She too, had stopped crying and did not say a word. The sheer thought of him crying was all it took to throw her into shock.

Finally, he rested his hands on her shoulders before gathering all effort to speak.

“Want some strawberries?”

She nodded without looking at him and made her way to the stairs. He followed her downstairs and watched her open the fridge. She took out the fresh strawberries they bought together that morning. She took her time washing them thoroughly before putting them in a glass bowl.

He picked one and fed her a bite before eating it himself. Then, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, he said:

“This is delicious.”

Sky Sairyou
Sunday, June 13, 2010.


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