What do you know? A boat actually showed up on the shore this morning. Despite Atsushi’s claim that there weren’t any seaworthy boats around here, one actually did appear. It's just the sails that need fixing. Thankfully, I already have the things needed for that.
I guess the wishing thing really works? If it does, why won’t the sea just lead a fishing vessel or something with other people here? Just pick us up and leave this island. Honestly, though, I’m starting to wonder if this is some kind of a dream with the way that everything just conveniently falls into place. Or maybe I actually drowned in that storm and this is some version of the afterlife or something. Anyway…
Atsushi is the name of that stranger. Or, at least he says it is. I don’t know where he stayed before coming up here to this house but it looks like he has every intention to stick around. Though he did disappear for a moment during the day. He came back with more shellfish and crabs. Apparently he was at the rockpools but I couldn’t see him…? Oh well, I could’ve been too fixated with checking the boat.
Oh, there was a chicken on board that boat that washed up too. I guess eggs will be added to the menu too. Anyway, we’re almost out of apples. It feels like that’s all that man eats. Then again, if I all I’ve had to eat was seafood so far, I’d probably do the same. The apples can’t last any longer anyway. Had to get rid of a few rotten ones already. The chicken won’t get sick from eating that, right?
Come to think of it, I had the strangest dream last night. Felt like someone was touching me…
So I fixed the sails. But guess what? The winds are blowing inland. There’s no way we we can fight both the winds and the waves. I suppose all we can do is wait until the directions change.
Atsushi’s been telling me about the island. The inhabitants supposedly left because fishing boats weren’t coming back. And like the superstitious seafaring folk that they were, they thought that it was a sign that the island didn’t want them staying here anymore. Well, it’s either that or that there was some kind of sea monster or something.
Who knows, really.
Not much else happened.
Though it seems like Atsushi has taken a liking to drinking. I need to teach him moderation before he drowns himself in everything we have.
Atsushi gets very chatty when he drinks. He actually started talking about how to get to the other side of the island through the cave, despite his insistence that I never step in there whenever he's sober. It’s pretty simple. Apparently I just need to navigate northwards, just keep going north. He also added that I must, “ABSOLUTELY must”, as per his words, make sure that I can’t hear anything when going through the cave. And also to stay “as far away from any puddles or pools of water as possible”.
He didn’t explain why though. He just… fell asleep on me. I wonder if he’ll remember what he said tomorrow morning.
He also gets very touchy when drunk. Hands all over the place. I guess he’s the reason for the weird dream. That might’ve actually been him.
Not that I mind
Those advices he gives about the caves, they’re rather unusual, aren’t they?
Come to think of it I wanted to ask him about the compass. I’ll need it if the winds work in our favour and we get to leave. He’s agreeable to everything when drunk but it doesn’t feel right to ask him for it when he’s like that. Maybe in the day.
Nothing much happened yesterday so, no entry.
We’re just sitting around and waiting for the winds to change now. Food isn’t an issue with Atsushi’s fishing prowess and the chicken producing eggs for us. I tried asking Atsushi for tips on spearing fish better. He wasn’t very helpful. He said the fish just happen to turn up for him whenever he needs them.
It sounds ridiculous but there might be some truth to that. I’ve watched him fish. There’s nothing special to his spear throwing and sometimes it doesn’t even land right. But whenever he pulls the stick back in, there’s a fish right there at the end. This man’s got some kind of crazy luck. There’s no other explanation for it.
Atsushi seemed rather grumpy today though. I think he’s finally experiencing a hangover. He actually declined the rum after dinner. I’ll ask about the compass tomorrow or when he’s in a better mood.
Actually, there was something yesterday. I woke up before daybreak for once and Atsushi looked like he was leaving. I think him separating himself from me was what woke up. He didn’t look like he expected that. Atsushi didn’t say where he was going but he said he’d return soon. I suppose I just went back to sleep.
The next time I woke up he was at the hearth tending to the pot, as usual. Now I wonder if he’s been heading out every morning. But where is there to go? The cave? That’s the only place I can think of.
There’s another odd thing I noticed though. Atsushi always wears the same clothes. I don’t know how it never occurred to me earlier. I’ve never seen him take a bath either, or go into the water.
He still smells nice -
Such a curious man.
Imai and Atsushi were seated on the walkway outside the house again, listening to the waves and watching the stars slowly appear as they sipped on seafood stew. It has barely been a week since Atsushi decided to stick around almost all the time, but Imai has already settled into this new normal of having someone else around. It was better than being alone after all.
So far, Atsushi has asked him about a lot of things. He seemed excited about the prospect of leaving, and judging by how curious he was about what things were like in the rest of the world, away from this island, Imai guessed that Atsushi has probably lived his entire life here. He never did ask though. He decided that as long as Atsushi didn’t ask about his past, Imai wouldn’t ask about Atsushi’s either.
Atsushi held his bowl of stew in his hands with a relaxed expression on his face as he listened to the crashing of the waves. Bringing the bowl to his lips, Atsushi glanced over at Imai and caught him staring. He raised an eyebrow, amused. What?
Imai hastily looked away, not realising that he had been watching Atsushi for a tad too long. Mutely, he shook his head and drank his own stew, munching on the shellfish that came with it.
“You’ve been preoccupied, these couple of days,” Atsushi commented.
“No, I’m not,” Imai muttered. He avoided Atsushi’s eyes, staring at the undulating waves below them instead. He didn’t quite know how to ask about the compass yet.
“What is it?” Atsushi probed, turning to face Imai as his robes rustled softly.
Imai glanced at him for a moment. “It’s nothing.”
“So there’s something then,” Atsushi confirmed. Imai could hear a smile in his voice. There was another rustle as he felt Atsushi come close. Peering at Imai up close, Atsushi said, “You want something.”
“Huh?” Imai looked at Atsushi, hiding his surprise under impassiveness.
Atsushi put his bowl down. Tracing Imai’s jaw with chilly fingers, Atsushi looked into Imai’s eyes, as if peering into his consciousness. As Atsushi smiled, Imai felt his heart skip a beat. He was beginning to struggle with keeping a straight face.
“I know what you want,” Atsushi whispered as he grinned, inching closer.
“What?” Imai asked, feigning ignorance as he pulled back.
Atsushi cupped Imai’s face, stopping his retreat. “That compass… and…”
“And?” Imai raised his brows, partly startled by Atsushi’s guess, partly perplexed by the idea that there was something else. What else was there?
Atsushi suddenly widened his eyes in surprise and blinked, as if snapping out of a trance. His hand left Imai’s face as he retreated. Picking up his bowl, Atsushi stood up and walked back into the house without a word.
Imai remained seated on the walkway, finishing the rest of his stew on his own. The whole event was weird, unnerving to say the least. He supposed that Atsushi could’ve guessed that he wanted the compass since that was what Imai eyed every time he went into the cave. But aside from that…
Just as Imai’s bowl went dry, he heard Atsushi’s footsteps exiting the house. Fingers tapped on Imai’s shoulder. Looking up, Atsushi standing behind him with an open palm, asking to take the bowl from him. Imai stared at him for a moment, trying to make sense of the strange expression that Atsushi had on his face but he failed to reach any form of understanding.
Atsushi twitched his fingers and Imai put the empty bowl in his hand, brushing his fingers over Atsushi’s. Why his mind thought that was significant, Imai didn’t know but Atsushi lingered for a moment, staring at Imai with a slight crease in his brow. Eventually pulling away, Atsushi walked back into the house with the bowl, leaving Imai alone again.
A sudden thought struck Imai. Could it be that Atsushi was debating whether or not he should relinquish the compass to Imai? He sighed. Then again, he didn’t necessarily need ownership of it. He could technically just borrow it from Atsushi.
As Imai stretched his legs out and leaned back, a bottle of rum was put down on the floor to his left. Atsushi settled on the floor too, kneeling with his legs to the side, as usual. Without looking at Imai, Atsushi uncorked the bottle and said, “Drink with me.” It sounded more like an insistence than an invitation.
Obliging, Imai took the first sip then passed the bottle to Atsushi. Surprisingly, he mimicked Imai’s sip instead of drinking in large mouthfuls like on previous occasions.
Putting the bottle down, Atsushi was silent for a moment, staring at the sea with an unreadable expression before saying, “Is there a reason why you always have your eyes on me?”
Imai felt another jolt and he shifted his eyes away, embarrassed. There was nothing negative in Atsushi’s tone, no disdain or whatsoever, but Imai couldn’t help but feel awkward about it. For some unfathomable reason, Imai’s gaze would just naturally end up on Atsushi, as if there was some kind of magnet that subconsciously drew him to Atsushi.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” Imai muttered, thoroughly abashed.
“It’s not that I mind,” Atsushi said. “I was just wondering…”
“Will you leave without me?”
Imai frowned. “Why would I do that? Didn’t we agree that we’d leave together?”
“Well… If there were circumstances that prevents me from doing that, will you go off on your own?”
“I don’t… understand. Why would-”
“It’s just hypothetical,” Atsushi cut in as he turned to Imai and flashed a smile. “Just… what if. Will you go?”
Imai stared, trying to decipher the reason for all the strangeness that Atsushi suddenly started exhibiting. He supposed answering Atsushi’s question might shed some light on that…
“I don’t feel inclined to do that,” he said frankly. “I agreed to take you with me and that’s what I intend to do,” Imai added firmly, turning away to cast his eyes over the sea again. He reached for the bottle and took another sip, hoping that the rum would settle the unease that has started growing. He really didn’t like the idea of leaving without Atsushi.
A soft laugh came from Atsushi. “I see…” he muttered. Imai heard Atsushi pick up the bottle, drink, and set it down again.
Imai waited for Atsushi to say something, letting the silence between them draw out. The waves continued crashing. Neither of them touched the bottle. Atsushi remained mum.
Eventually, Imai’s patience wore out. “Why did you ask such a question?”
Atsushi turned to Imai, leaning closer to him. His eyes slowly wandered over Imai’s body. His slim legs, crossed. His faded navy robes, wrapped around his slender frame. His collarbone and chest left exposed by the loose neckline. His hair, now long enough to reach his shoulder blades.
“Atsushi?” Imai called and Atsushi snapped his eyes to Imai, his expression inscrutable with a strange look in the dark depths of his eyes.
“I can give you the compass,” Atsushi finally said. “But the other…” His words trailing, Atsushi looked down, his finger tracing the grain of the wooden planks.
“What ‘other’ are you talking about?” Imai asked, perplexed. “If you’re worried about me leaving you behind, I’m telling you that’s not happening. Is my word not enough for you?” he continued, growing upset as a distressed frown took its place on his brow.
“It’s not that,” Atsushi denied. “It’s just… If you… I’m scared that you’ll…”
“Is it about what happens after we leave?” Imai ventured. “You can stay with me. With the boat and the promissory notes we can go anywhere, do anything,” he said. After a moment, a thought struck him. “Or are you worried that I’d abandon you then?” Imai laughed bitterly, suddenly feeling dread instead as he smirked wryly. “I’m more afraid that you’ll leave me after finding out how much more interesting the rest of the world is compared to me.”
Atsushi stared at him and Imai froze, realising what he just said. He didn’t even understand what made him say something like that. He liked Atsushi but he shouldn’t stop him from exploring the world… right?
With that in mind, Imai hastily added, “But if you want to, you should.” He immediately reached for the bottle and drank a couple of mouthfuls, trying to ignore Atsushi’s intense stare.
“And if I don’t want to?” Atsushi asked, his voice soft.
“Then do what you want,” Imai said nonchalantly, hiding the small sliver of gladness he felt.
Atsushi chuckled and shifted. “I… don’t know if I should.”
Imai moved to get up, grunting as he said, “Well it’s your choice, isn’t it?” He could feel Atsushi’s eyes following him as he walked back into the house. “I think I’m going to turn in,” Imai muttered. Maybe sleep was what he needed to clear his head. He had expected Atsushi to head indoors with him, but this time, Atsushi chose to stay on the walkway while Imai drifted to sleep.
It felt like Imai merely blinked, though, when he stirred to the vague sensation of something brushing across his cheek and heard a quiet murmur of his name. “Hisashi…”
“Hn?” Imai grunted groggily.
There was a sharp intake of breath. “You’re awake?” Atsushi whispered, startled. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“What is it?” Imai slurred. Cracking his eyes open as he turned, Imai saw the vague outline of Atsushi illuminated by the low fire in the hearth behind him which reflected off his robes. It looked as if Atsushi’s pale skin was adorned by spots of multi-coloured lights in Imai’s blurry vision as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.
“No, no, it’s nothing,” Atsushi muttered quickly. “Go back to sleep.”
“I’m awake,” declared Imai. His eyes still felt dry but it didn’t matter. “What is it?”
“It’s nothing. I was just thinking about… things,” Atsushi insisted. “Don’t worry about it, just go back to sleep.”
“You were touching my face, weren’t you?” Imai asked, speech still slurring. Adjusting his position, Imai lay on his side as he faced Atsushi.
Atsushi’s eyes grew wide and he turned flustered. “You must be mistaken! I don’t- I haven’t-”
“Weren’t there other occasions too?” Imai continued, looking past Atsushi to look at the wall behind him. “Though I think your hands were under my clothes.”
“Ah! No! I- That’s- You weren’t supposed to wake up…” Atsushi’s protests diminished into a whimper.
Imai hummed, amused by Atsushi’s denials. “What were you trying to achieve? Hm?” he muttered as he reached for Atsushi, who let Imai take hold of his fingers without much of a response.
Looking at Imai, Atsushi seemed to have words stuck in his throat while his eyes shone with unguarded feelings, with disquiet, with yearning. As affected as Imai was by Atsushi’s emotions, it was the honesty of it that struck Imai harder. Atsushi was usually so enigmatic with his actual sentiments hidden under the layers of his teasing and playful flirting.
A shine in the gloom suddenly caught Imai’s attention. It was the bottle of rum that they were sharing earlier. Or rather, it was now just the bottle. Worry gripped Imai. The bottle was still almost full when he went to bed. Atsushi never had that much to drink. Then again, Imai was usually there to take the bottle away.
Imai gently pulled Atsushi towards him, down towards his chest. “Atsushi, it’s fine, let’s just go to sleep, alright?” he coaxed.
“Hisashi…” Atsushi called, his voice barely a whisper as he looked up at Imai while held close. Before Imai could react, Atsushi reached up and pressed his lips to Imai’s, kissing him softly.
If there was any shred of drowsiness left in Imai, it has all been swept away by shock. He wasn’t upset by Atsushi’s affections, but he certainly wasn’t expecting it. He wasn’t even sure if this was something that will stick around when Atsushi turns sober.
Imai felt Atsushi’s lips part and push his tongue against Imai’s lips, teasing them open as Atsushi slid his tongue in. Rolling onto his back, Imai grunted, trying to hold back from giving in to Atsushi’s advances but Atsushi kept pushing, pinning Imai under him as he snaked his arms around Imai.
The cool fabric of Atsushi’s robes felt like silk against Imai’s skin, a contrast to the heat building within Imai, made more stark by Atsushi’s chilly fingers caressing his face and body. Atsushi sucked on Imai’s lower lip before flicking his tongue against Imai’s once more and then shifting lower, to his jaw and neck.
“Atsushi…” Imai growled lowly, taking in deep breaths as he tried to calm himself down. It didn’t seem like Atsushi heard him. Feeling Atsushi’s hand slip under his robe and run over his chest, Imai gasped and tightened his arm around Atsushi.
“Atsushi!” Imai hissed, his tone growing sharp. Still no response. Deciding to take things into his own hands, Imai held Atsushi as he rolled over. Atsushi lay wide-eyed and frozen under Imai, stunned by Imai’s aggressive move and the sudden switch in positions.
“Atsushi, please! Stop!” Imai pleaded.
“But why?” whined Atsushi. His face scrunched up as frustrated tears filled his eyes. “Aren’t I one of the things you wanted?”
Imai flinched. Was that the ‘other’ thing that has been bothering Atsushi? But how could Atsushi tell? He wasn’t that easy to read, was he?
Quickly recovering, Imai muttered disapprovingly, “You’re not a thing!” Atsushi looked away and pouted, chastened. “And not now! Not when you’re like this!”
Atsushi rubbed his pelvis against Imai’s groin, making Imai lurch closer to Atsushi with a surprised grunt. “But you want me, don’t you? Hisashi?” Atsushi purred, his voice low and seductive.
Cursing violently, Imai grabbed the blanket and bundled Atsushi up in it. “For fuck’s sake go to sleep,” Imai said, ignoring Atsushi’s protests and struggles.
As Imai wrapped his arms and legs around Atsushi, retraining him, a devilish grin appeared on Atsushi’s face. “I can feel you,” he whispered in a sing-song voice.
Imai felt a pressure against his crotch. His face growing warm, he headbutted Atsushi, smacking his forehead into the other man’s. It hurt, but that stopped Atsushi. “I said stop it! I’m not doing anything with you when you’re this drunk!”
“I’m not drunk!” Atsushi whined again.
“Just listen to yourself!” Imai reprimanded, unyielding in his stance as Atsushi continued complaining.
Eventually, Atsushi gave up, resigning himself to be content with nuzzling against Imai while curled up in the blanket. By the time Imai finally fell back asleep, the hearth had died and he was beginning to feel the cold creep under his skin, pulling him into an uncomfortable sleep.