Rice Fields: A Long Sleep (short story part 1/2)

‘It’s arrived,’ said Mei. She clutched my arm pulling me to the side to let the passengers off. We boarded and sat. ‘Lucky we got a seat ne,’ she continued. I replied with a smile. Strands of hair fell from behind her left ear as she rested on my shoulder. I peered down at her long legs hidden underneath baggy jeans. I had only seen them once before.

‘You’ve been a bit tense since lunch Shouzu,’ she said.
‘Un, maybe!’
‘What’s wrong?’
‘Iie, nothing.’
‘Hey! I’m your best friend, ne!’
‘Un.’
‘So wake me up at the next stop.’ She laughed.
‘Sleeping again,’ I whispered.

The train pulled out from Omotesando station. A passenger opposite softly poked the lady seated next to him in an attempt to wake her up, but she continued to bop backwards and forwards with her head firmly cemented on his shoulder. I scanned the colour blinding advertisements, but nothing was new. A teenager stood gazing out the window looking at the tall buildings flicker past while another read a comic book. The train stopped and the sleeping lady seated opposite woke up calmly and got off without an apology. The man used as a pillow glanced at her as the train moved. Mei and I chuckled, avoiding any eye contact with him.

‘Ne Shouzu-kun, do you know Cokiyu?’
‘What’s that?’
‘She makes ambient music!’
‘I see.’
‘I feel like I am breaking away from society when I listen to Cokiyu. Her voice fills my body with fresh energy.’
‘I am not into music that much!’
‘You’re not into much of anything Shouzu.’
‘But I do like Nightmare.’
‘Eeee, visual kei band ne?’
‘Un, that’s right!’
‘I see. I wonder if you’re really ok!’
‘Why?’
‘No reason.’

A lady in her forties boarded the train at the next stop and stood in front of us. Her round face scattered with beauty spots reminded me of flies trapped in a lamp. I could feel Mei’s eyes pinpointing me like a drone. It was my cue to turn my head. The train moved and stopped again.

‘Come on, we have to get off here and change,’ she said. She pulled at my arm gently and motioned me to get off. The passengers outside of the train stepped to one side. I could no longer see faces, just colours. We walked to the opposite platform and away from the smoker’s corner. The ground had already dried after the morning’s downpour. The thick summer humidity was like having your body thrown without reservation into a sauna. When you are a child it did not bother you as much, but as an adult you question each passing season whether you can survive. I stepped forward onto the thick yellow line and listened to the cicada’s sing as the sun danced between the clouds casting a gentle glimmer of light onto the tracks.

‘When are you going to get your hair cut Shouzu?’
‘Never!’ I laughed.
‘Baaaaaaaaka!’ She pulled my hair. I looked outside the window, but I pulled her attention back.
‘Doesn’t it ever bother you Mei?’
‘What?’ she looked confused.
‘Trains always come on time.’
‘Sometimes ne!.’ There is a short silience. ‘Apparently a typhoon is heading towards us this evening,’ she continued, ‘I wonder if it will take me with it?’
‘Huh?’
‘Ah, you’re always daydreaming Shouzu!’ She pinched me.
‘Sorry!’
‘You should sleep more ok!’
‘Un, I should.’ Seeing her disappointment I initiated conversation. ‘So, What will you do tomorrow Mei?’
‘Hmmm, ano ne. I think I will have a long sleep!’
‘Sounds nice!’
‘Un!’

She smiled and stepped to the side. Her brown eyes sparkled as she looked at me with her peach painted lips shut tight. The familiar warning beep began to sound throughout the platform to let the waiting passengers know that a bullet train would be whizzing through. I turned to look at the oncoming train as it cut through the air with its beautiful aerodynamic figure.

‘Thank you for everything Shouzu!,’ said Mei. She kissed my cheek, but I pretended not to feel it.

A heart-ripping scream of a woman and a thumping sound echoed under the roaring of the bullet train as it passed by. I turned sharply to look at the woman behind me. She was gripping the hand of a child so tightly the young boy looked as if he was in pain. I looked around the platform to find people staring at me with shocked expressions.

‘Mei, what happened?’ I asked as I turned back, but she was not there. I looked in every direction but could not see her. My heart began to hammer and I grew dizzy. I stumbled to the side as I caught sight of blood splattered against the wall across the tracks.

‘Mei!’ I screamed. A station attendant in blue came rushing over and caught me before I fell to the ground. My mind numb, my legs weak, she was gone.

To be continued…

By B. L. Crisp

Read: Rice Fields: Moment’s Lost Part 2/2

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