”Sure, but exhausting nonetheless.”
Despite his efforts to put his long hair in place, be it using clips or elastic bands, the gentle breeze would come through it effortlessly like calm ocean waves forcing sand between your fingers. Nagai could only bear the messy hear until he had picked all the fruits that had fallen in their garden.
“I’d be more than glad to receive some help, you know?” Kafuu glanced at his friend who was ever so casually laying in their rocking chair on the porch, behind which was their small but cozy cottage.
Tanizaki put down the book he had been indulging in for the past hour and looked at his fellow friend with the type of smile meant to repress an eager but light laughter. The type of smile they’d give each other when frivolous questions with obvious answers were asked.
“You left me all by myself to deal with the naughty weeds yesterday. You’re on your own here.” That quickly answered Kafuu’s enquiry. Junichiro then went back to his book, a book he held with such care, touching each and every page as if his very fingers were made out of porcelain, as if he was hallow inside and could break easily. But not only that; he treated it like one would when carrying precious stones and minerals extracted carefully from bowels of earth.
Years ago, they decided it’d be best to get let go of their lives at the Library; to relive the same story again and again, to witness their precious characters, usually based on their own personal life, being tainted to no end, their images distorted before their eyes. Call it cowardice if you so wish but running away from the never-ending cycle of wake up-fight-repeat were slowly but surely killing them on the inside. They couldn’t entirely put everything behind them and begin anew, of course; Nagai still kept his bow and arrow under their bed in their shared bedroom. Not only that, actually, most of their possessions from their rooms were hidden there. They carried heavy memories, burdens and wounds, wounds to the heart; sometimes reliving those memories left a sour taste in their mouth, but the residual sweet-and-sour taste got them addicted. Those were items with a sentimental value that they just couldn’t throw away.
It is true, however, that in order to rebuilt their lives as two lovers looking for a fresh beginning in the province, they left big parts of themselves in the past. That, surprisingly, didn’t bother them that much though. It was like it wasn’t that difficult to accept that Nagai no longer needed fancy clothes, since a farmer’s life would always get you dirty, while
Tanizaki was forever seen as the type to easily adapt to new changes. Given the fact that both were forced into a much darker and crueler world than the one they were initially born into, this level of control and freedom of choice that they had should’ve been a given from the very beginning. It’s not that they hated their life before; it’s just that they were never asked if they wanted it in the first place.
When the last fruit also found its place in the basket, Nagai brought them into the kitchen to wash them, gently pushing the wind chimes that had been hung in several places around the house with the front wooden door. who then brought it to the center of the table and the most beautiful one left it on the small outside table next to Tanizaki and sat on the other rocking chair beside him.
Once finally done arranging all the fruits in his baskets, Kafuu went straight to the kitchen to get them cleaned and arrange them again in different baskets and bowls, which he later put in the center of the kitchen table. There was a certain level of harmony now, he thought to himself. He prepared a separate plate for his dear Junichiro, of course, and took it outside where he put it on the coffee table between the two rocking chares, then sat comfortably on the vacant one.
“So, what about the book’s been having you so preoccupied?” It was but a mere glance that Nagai threw at whatever he was reading, as little as the distance between them allowed him to. But Junichiro was sometimes a secretive man and quickly hid what was inside those thin layers of papers by covering his face with the book. The book cover wasn’t spoiling much of it, if a simple picture and gradient color could ever spoil anything, but it was all Nagai had to draw his conclusions whether whatever Tanizaki was reading was of any high quality literature work.
It was a collection of horror stories from what he could tell, but before being able to read the author behind those spooky tales, as Tanizaki put the book back on his lap and swayed cheerfully on the bed; he was truly happy with whatever he was reading.
For some time, his partner had a particular and undisguised interest in horror genre, perhaps because before parting with his friends at the Library, he had formed an odd yet strong bond with Yumeno that some days Nagai’d sit and wait for his friend to finish whatever meeting and discussions those two were having for hours to no end.
"What do you like about them?" He sighed and wiped a drop of sweat, dripping slowly between the light wrinkles that appeared on his forehead.
“Nothing in particular. I'm experimenting… seeking inspiration.”
“There are thousands of other books, genres and sub-genres to draw your inspiration from.”
“But this here feels different. Want me to read you a little from it?” Tanizaki smiled contently and Nagai had just noticed the almost invisible tan that he had. Junichirou was rather redder than tanned, to be fair, but nevertheless, he looked as beautiful as ever in his eyes.
“Okay?” Nagai turned his chair so that he’d be facing him directly, to which the wooden floor creaked but without causing any disturbance to either of them, and leaned back with his arms crossed and eyes brimming with visible curiosity. He’d hate to admit it but he too wouldn’t mind finding his inspiration once again, as writer’s blocks tend to be a writer’s worst and most fearful enemy.
[ Glistening in the moonlight was the blood streaming down her lifeless pale face, the fine fabric covering her body was soaking in the color so quickly its hue was suddenly altering into a deeper red. Contrary to her body, it was warm and kind of lively, almost like a rivulet making its way down a rocky hill. Before death hovered over her uninvited, she was a woman with a flame in her gaze lit up by the very fire in her heart. Now the only light there was to be seen was coming from his lighter that he held tremblingly.
Whilst dripping from her, the blood was mixing up with the gasoline splashed around and on her body, it almost appeared as if it was trying to breakthrough from it and escape, or hide in the cracks in the streets; maybe in a senseless attempt to foil the ground and if anything were to ever sprout from her very blood, that’d be cursed, withered flowers that only vengeance kept alive. But nothing of that sort was possible; it was out of the realm of reality unlike how vivid his difficulty to breathe was. Too many thoughts were going through his head, so many that he couldn’t pinpoint which one to dwell over. Not that he had the time to do it anyway with his pulsing heart aching to escape his ribcage. He believed he was sensible when murdering her. As a matter of fact, in the midst of it all it felt so natural, so necessary, just like, ironically, breathing itself. But the realization of his cruel actions, the sensibility that followed right after his state of madness, forced out a few yelps before a cry from antagonizing pain overwhelmed the silent road he had dragged her all the way out to.
He murdered his wife; the same woman who on their first date years and years ago spoke sweetly to him, complimented him to the point he felt special and wanted; he felt that to that point unfamiliar sense of belonging. Someone finally peeked through his little holes in his personality and found something worth cherishing… or so he believed.
Everything was a lie, though; her failed marriage, her kids, her past-life, all of it was a made-up fairytale that she invented. Behind that love and devotion was a prostitute that before her life despised men. Or maybe mankind as a whole, thus why he never knew of her past crimes and the swift ways she got away with them. Because she was only known for her signature mark after each killing – a lipstick in a bright pink hue that she’d smear all over her beloved preys’ face and a carved X on their chest, no one was able to put a face behind all those crimes.
What laid beneath him disgusted him. A decaying corpse; a joke of a woman that he wholeheartedly adored. A fraud of a human being.
Yet, he felt so much pain for killing her. All those years spent in false happiness, he never knew it wasn’t genuine love but an intricate and profound plot of hers to murder him.
He wasn’t the richest, but he was considered wealthy amongst his friends. And however much riches he had, she wanted them all for herself. She wanted to indulge in money and the fame all her homicides.
But he couldn’t resist giving her one last kiss. Maybe he wasn’t any saner than her, but he was no murderer. Even know, he was no murderer. He was a brokenhearted gentleman who may have saved not only his own skin but many more that would’ve had followed after him had he not dealt with her faster.
A simple kiss became two, three, and then four. Finally she was just quiet and beautiful. Grotesque, evil and ever so gorgeous; the most beautiful monster that he had allowed into his life, he thought.
And then he set her on fire and stood there, on her burning frame. Her gown and face caught on quicker than planned but even when little pats of his clothes began to burn he didn’t stand up. He couldn’t. Or maybe he didn’t desire to do so. Who knew what was going through his mind once again? Maybe how much he despised that dress and how lovely it looked half-burnt. ]
“Did you like it?”
“I wouldn’t say so… but I understand why you took a liking to it.”
“Hmm?” Tanizaki placed the book next to the plate and ate a strawberry, some of its sweet juice which fell down his chin.
“Because of the he main character. He’s quite… “weird”.”
“Because he’s quite… “weird”. I like the sound of that. These are the last pages of the novel, though, so it’s only natural that you don’t understand his motives.”
“I think that’s what’s so special about him. I doubt I’d understand him any better were I to read the book.” Without an explanation, Nagai smiled. Does the main character, too, have no rational explanations for his actions? Or rather his feelings?
“I’m lending it to you tomorrow. No, even better, tonight. It’ll be like a sweet bedtime story for me just from you~.” Junichirou stood up briefly as to move his chair closer to his partner’s then both took a look at the scenery before them. Night was gradually setting in as the sun was making its way behind the faraway mountains, letting only singular and distinguishable rays of sunshine to peak between the summits.
A gentle breeze also settled in and moved around some of the fallen leaves.
“Ugh!” Nagai grumbled and rubbed attentively his eyes to the point they reddened.
“Did tiny grits do this?” Tanizaki cupped his face and slightly pressed down his thumbs against his cheeks to see what caused the irritation, chuckling barely but noticeably.
“What’s the titter for?”
“Nothing much, just wondering if this isn’t George and Amy’s doing.” The hell’s up with him, wondered for a moment Nagai, then joined in the subtle giggling with him.
These books surely weren’t doing Junichirou any good for his head. But so what?
Maybe he was right.