departure

by ty

prompt : cotton candy, fluff and happiness. cheerfulness. 

“We’d go anywhere you’d like; be it kaoshiung, or seoul, we would go there someday.” he pulled her arm lightly as he pat her on her head. Perhaps it was the last time they would get to sit in this quiet convenient store going through their usual habit of eating herbal tea eggs as they watched the cars pass by in the starless nights; he was leaving, and she did not know where he was heading. It was the first time she felt this helpless for the past year or so and she was probably too dependent on this pillar she leant on for support. She felt somehow lost in the night as he got up to get more food from the back. Staring out into the quiet street, she wondered about how the past year had just flown by within what felt like mere seconds. The flashbacks ran through her mind as she scrunched up the wrapper she held tightly in her sweaty palms, she was not willing to let go. Pulling her hoodie over her messy bun she sighed and slumped onto the table, pouting slightly. He plonked himself back onto the chair beside her and stared at her for a few seconds, somewhat wondering if he’d ever get a chance to see her like this anymore. Glancing down to the card he held in his hand, he ruffled his hair and reached out to tap her shoulder – yet he paused, clenching his fist before he pulled his arm back.

A day before his departure.

She sat in the dark living room of her apartment flipping through her notebook, the one she wrote in, the one she treasured the most. The darkness felt somewhat peaceful to her, yet menacing. At times she really wondered why he had to leave, why his parents had been like that. There again they lived in a pragmatic society, a terrible welfare system probably lead to all this unnecessary pain; the old belief elders held towards their children – study hard, work hard and have a stable life. The stubborn walls they built to protect such views towards everything seemed impenetrable, pushing them to go scrambling everywhere looking for any suitable opportunities to send their children abroad to study. Getting their children up to the so called social hierarchy seemed to weigh much more than whether they were even happy; whether they even wanted this. What made her cringe even more was that he was being sent abroad to study a course he never liked, a course he harboured no interest in yet did well for a peculiar reason. He absorbed things fast, a natural intelligent learner, yet you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he never liked anything he learnt. Rather than being confined to books and complicating equations, he would kill to spend a day out on the streets, a day spent sitting on a bus ride till they ended service, a day spent lying on the beach, a day spent driving through the countryside admiring scenery. People intrigued him more than any subject taught by droning teachers would – he longed to observe people, know people and perhaps understand people. She recalled his rambles about how he longed to understand how people thought and how they felt about the others they bumped into on the streets. Meeting someone was what he would call an affinity, speaking to someone was a joy, knowing someone was a privilege, understanding someone was a miracle; a common sentence he would say between bites of his herbal tea eggs as his brown eyes fluttered about the store. She would miss these details, those long talks they had after a long day in the chilly convenient store till they got tired – they went there often enough that the store attendant would recognize them and talk to them once in a while. It would be vastly different from then on.

12 hours before his departure.

He picked out the neon coloured sketchbook from his bag and put it on the floor, the rough sketches scattering all over the carpet. Sitting cross legged on the ground, he picked them up, folding some of them into little cranes, some into little cats, the animals she loved the most. He remembered how she once told him about how she felt like she was a paper crane, stringed to the ledge on the cover of a tightly closed jar, its lid being the only thing that separated happiness and unhappiness. She could go far enough to reach the mere boundary between the two, yet she could never get far into the happy zone; she knew that. Once, he said he would prove her wrong; yet he was leaving, how much could he prove? Sighing, he put the folded paper animals into another jar which left a scent in his room, tugging on the reigns he held over his thoughts as he was brought back to the sunny day more than a year back; the day he met her.

They met under the funniest circumstances, one in which two strangers would smile awkwardly at each but turn around and forget about that moment within a few steps. He remembered stepping onto the gravel that warm morning as he watched the petals of the cherry blossoms near his house fall gracefully onto the ground, swaying their bodies in glee. It was a rare occasion, honestly one of the first times his parents willingly letting the worn out clamps they had fastened around his neck to wear away as the metal chains got replaced by the strap of his camera; he was going people watching. It was the first day of the little fair their little town held biannually. It was a small scale, given the fact that their town wasn’t the largest, neither was it one of the richest. Simplicity had been the running theme of the fair everytime and they never gave up on their strong set of virtures. Made up of no more than ten stalls, it definitely wasn’t all that alluring to the public. Trodding down the path, he watched as the people walked by smiling at their companions, some holding giant stuff toys they won. Perhaps it was that moment he set his eyes on that girl who seemed ordinary yet something caught his eye; her chiffon dress flowed in the wind as she smiled to the sky, walking towards him alone. She held this puffy stick of pink cotton candy as her shades hid her eyes. Holding up his camera the shutters met as he looked down to look at them. This simple girl had been blur as she walked straight into him. Exchanging a few apologies he was caught in her smile, her somewhat radiating innocence, something he never saw before in someone. As much as he enjoyed people watching, he would match this prescence to a mixture of the innocence of a young child and the beauty of a mature lady; she was something different. Topping it off with her eye smiles and the melting blob of cotton candy she held in her thin bare arms, those sixty seconds left a mark on his mind.

6 hours before his departure.

She stood before the mirror, fixing her peach blouse over her black woven skirt. She exhaled deeply as her black hair fell onto her face, hiding one of her eyes. It would be the last time she saw him in awhile. Somehow, she felt disorientated, empty and lonely; a feeling one would get as they sat above a rooftop, swaying in the chilly wind, threatening to fall any moment as she looked down to watch the teeming street below. She felt tired, she dread the moment she would watch him walk past the glass doors of the departure gate. She dread seeing his parents smirk in triumph in finally tearing them apart. She dread being left alone with his parents at the airport even if it was going to be for mere minutes or seconds; they never liked her and she supposed they never would. For a moment, she felt that perhaps an end would do both of them good. She never felt good about herself, as though she had never given anything in this relationship, being nothing but a sponge sucking up the attention he showered her with. Yet this idea had been often thrown away with the heartening words he spoke to her; But she never forgot the possibility that they were lies.

“I’m losing myself once again huh,” she poked her reflection in the mirror as she shook her head. Putting on the same shades she donned the summer day years ago, she picked up her bag and picked up the paper bag beside it – it was time to go.

4 hours before his departure.

She walked through the bustling airport shivering. Sixty more minutes and he would enter the departure hall. Sixty more minutes and she wouldn’t get to see him anymore; Sixty more minutes and she’d be alone.

He trudged wearily, pulling his luggage leaving it to leave tracks on the ground accompanied by the noise of its wheels groaning on the cold ground. His parents smiled to each other as they held his passport in hand, fussing over his hair and indifference towards the flight. They laughed and spoke about how he would soon start to get used to a new lifestyle, how he would find new friends, and perhaps a new girl. He froze when they said  “better girl”, yet he regained his composure quick enough and smiled slightly at them – not quite the response they wanted but it would suffice to satisfy their queer expectations.

They met; all four of them before the departure hall. His parents scoffed a little before leaving them to talk, moving to a distant row of chairs to wait. He looked at her, those once happy innocent eyes now filled with some sort of sadness. He could not bear to leave yet; he had to admit that perhaps this would do them both good. He shrugged for a moment, breathing in deeply.

“Take care.” He mumbled before he began to choke up. Opening his bag, he pulled the parcel out and placed them lightly in her shivering hands. By then her tears had betrayed her, abandoning her earlier promise not to cry. She felt terribly vulnerable, yet she wanted to freeze the moment. Returning him a gift she had prepared in the plain paper bag, she sniffed, “You too.” It had been yet another sixty seconds; their last.

“Son you have to go. It’s the first time you’re going alone so better be early than late. Hurry along!” His parents probably got tired of watching their moody emotion exchange as they came to push him away, turning to her to give her some sort of a hostile expression. She covered her mouth with her trembling hands as she picked up her things and left. She couldn’t take it any longer; it was over she supposed. For a second she tried imagining his reaction; would he stand and stare at her go by, would he break into tears, would he just shrug it off and smile to his parents, would he smile and laugh at her idiocy and turn to walk back in? Perhaps it didn’t matter did it.

He watched her run through the crowds as he stoned for awhile. He considered running after her yet he remembered his parents; uncertainty clouded over him –  the uncertainty that felt like a gaping hole, one which left him to fall into nullity, where how long the fall would last remained a conundrum. He wondered what would happen after the fall, whether he would find the ground, or find himself submerged in murkiness, or would it be nothing but incandescent flames of hope, to find perhaps, find her once again.

1 hour before his departure.

She stood looking through the glass at the runway, waiting for his flight to leave. Music blasted through her earpieces as she submerged herself in some sort of tranquility. It had been tiring, did she do wrong? For the past hour, she spent her time walking through the untroubled crowd, occasionally bumping into strangers who would stare at her bitterly, somehow looking out to see perhaps a familiar silhouette holding a camera up to his face. She wondered if she had acted too rashly. There again regretting did nothing.

“Take care. And well I’m sorry for what happened” She read off the screen of her phone as she saw the message he sent to her. She shrugged it off; forget it.

She watched his plane rush off the runway in the sunset; Picking up the box he gave her, she pulled the ribbon off quickly to reveal the pictures he had taken on a summer day a few years ago. She smiled once again, closing the lid carefully. Walking it towards the eatery in the airport, she looked at the cotton candy wrapped in plastic. Picking it up, she walked to the cashier.

AN: oh god so i wrote this with the prompt that chocolate cat fish dongsaeng gave me!! though cotton candy and fluff didn’t appear as much as i wanted it to i guess i’m happy LOL ITS STUPID I’M SORRY I HATE MY WROUHNEIRVDBIJNVD ok fine i should staph but ya idk what to say about this its longer than usual cos i liek writing short things but ya okay enjoy ya bye jfinodpcs

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