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Cherry Blossoms

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The season of cherry blossoms had arrived. In this shopping district’s park, they are in full bloom. The small petals fluttered in the wind, braving the still cold season. People stopped and admired them briefly before continuing their hurried steps. But not Sousuke. He halted his long strides under a big cherry blossoms tree, feeling the blossoms and the wind gushed around him.

A few years ago, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom too. The lights in this very same park glowed as though enchanting the passersby. The pink petals were like rainfalls on that day. They looked small, beautiful, and fragile. Just like the spring season, they come and go. But the memories that happened that day lasted in Sousuke’s memories until now. If he could stop the time from moving since then, he would.

Standing under the tree, Sousuke saw two kids running around the park, trying to catch the flowers and laughing with each other. Just like that time, he thought. That day, he was with another kid, same age as him. Compared to Sousuke’s raven hair, this kid had deep red hair. He had a cheeky look in his eyes, and his shark-like teeth appeared when he grinned. The two of them were member of the swimming club. If there was someone whom Sousuke should be grateful for introducing him to swimming, that would be this kid.

Little did Sousuke know that that day in spring would be their last spring together. Come spring next year and the following years after that, Sousuke would be walking in this park alone. On that particular afternoon, few hours before sunset, Sousuke and his friend were walking together in the shopping district’s park. They loved going through here every April because of the rows of cherry trees. The two kids would stop walking and gazed as the petals danced in the soft breeze. Few petals settled on the redhead’s hair and shoulder, and Sousuke helped him removed them. His friend gave him a toothy grin as his response. The scene was etched deeply in the memories of Sousuke. He would replay it everytime he would think of his friend. That was the last time they were really happy and carefree.

If there were encounters, there would surely be partings and saying goodbye was never easy. So when the redheaded kid decided to leave, Sousuke could only wave his hand and uttered a meek see you later. This is not goodbye, he tried to convince himself.

Sousuke took a small blossom in his hand. When the season passes by, the cherry blossoms fade too as if they had already fulfilled their mission. The once lovely park turned quiet and lonely, no different from what Sousuke was feeling since that day. As seasons change, Sousuke remained hopeful that he would receive any news about his friend. Yet no matter how many times he would look at their mailbox, no letter came. Not a single news all these years. 

There were lots of things that he was unfamiliar with this person now. There were so many things he would like to tell his friend and so many things he would want to ask. The day his friend left, two shadows were also left behind -- the shadows of their past. They wanted to strive more as swimmers but they had grown somewhat dependent, albeit unconsciously, with each other. But now Sousuke longed for nothing except spend the days with his friend just like the old times, enjoying swimming with him.

Sousuke looked again at the flower in his hand. It was still pink and small. The petals in his memories looked the same as the one on his palm. He knitted his brows and stared long and hard. Yes, they looked exactly the same as the ones from before, still beautiful as ever. But it seemed different to him.

All those days since then had changed him. He couldn’t help but think if his friend had changed too. Of course, he changed but how much did he change, he wanted to see. In this season where someone decides that if there were encounters, there would be partings. But for Sousuke, there would also be reunions. He let go of the flower on his palm and gazed at the tree. The flower petals still danced in the wind.

“I hope the feelings I couldn’t put into words are carried out on this flower petals,” he murmured. This spring, they would surely meet again. With a renewed resolution, he started walking, a faint smile playing on his lips.