Monday, November 10, 2014
JUST LIKE THAT by SakunaS (First Place Winner)
She whispered, her voice like a familiar song. Tears crept down her cheeks as she smiled.
"Shawn." Her voice sounded calm-secure, but her expression; her quivering lips and her furrowed brow revealed her pain, her agony. She pressed down a high pitch note on the piano keyboard with her index finger.
Her tears crept down her cheeks. "Beautiful, isn't it?" she said. Her tears were unceasing. She bit her quivering lip. Her tears became a stream.
I nodded; she still had her focus on the piano. "Beautiful." I said, closing my eyes. She pressed down another key. She played a short melody. When the melody ended, I slowly opened my eyes. She was still staring at her fingers. The piano was in the middle of the practice room and on the sides were couches and guitars aligned like as if it was her silent audience. She stretched out her arm to grab her jacket, and walked around the piano, towards the door.
"Goodbye, Shawn." She turned the knob and walked out.
I took a deep breath and sighed. The saddest goodbye is when you know you'll never meet again.
It's been exactly one year since her disappearance. Just like that, she left. Not telling her friends, college mates or her family. Her disappearance created a huge scandal and I was in the middle of it.
The police put me as the prime suspect after discovering that I was the last to see her. Constant surveillance and questioning for about a month. Once, they had asked if there was any place she would frequently go, but I didn't know. All I knew was that she played the piano in the practice room every day. Then they asked if she preferred a certain type or brand of pianos, but I told them I didn't know. "You keep answering you don't know. Are you nervous or do you really know nothing about her?" The whole thing became tiring.
Her disappearance remained a mystery. No one knew why. Her family was middle class, and she had close friends. Sure, her family was a bit strict, but she loved them. She was actually a mysterious girl. No one knew what she was thinking or wanted to do. Actually, she didn't know herself. She was stressing over her future just months before our graduation, she was still in the undecided major section. All she was clear of was that she loved playing the piano.
Yeah, no one really knew.
I pulled up my scarf in order to cover my mouth from the icy cold wind. I walked to the nearest cafe. I pushed open the glass door, stomping my foot on the carpet to get the snow off my boots. The cafe was small. There were only about ten small rounded tables. The lighting in the cafe was perfect, though-not too bright or too dim; perfect for reading.
"For one, sir?" The waitress asked me. I nodded. "This way, please." She motioned me with her hands and led me to the third table closest from my entry.
The employee placed down the menu on my table. Before she turned and left, I quickly gave my order, "Regular coffee with one cream and two sweetener, please."
The waitress spun around, "Anything else for you, sir?" I shook my head. "Just a moment, sir." She took the menu and left.
A lady on my right caught my attention. Weird, I thought to myself. Like the majority of the women in the city, she had dark brown hair and pale white skin. The weird part on her behalf was the fact that she was wearing sunglasses and a thin piece of clothing in this type of weather- it was like negative twenty outside. It looks as if she had just landed here from Mexico. The type of necklace she's wearing and the numerous bracelets on her wrist seemed to say so.
"Could you stop staring at me, sir?" Her voice startled me--ringing in my ear. She didn't look at me and continued reading the newspaper she held in her hands.
"Sorry." I apologized, "you were just too captivating."
"Do you mean the way I dress?"
Surprised of her response, I remained silent.
She giggled, "It's alright, it isn't the first time people have stared at me since I've arrived here."
"I deeply apologize."
"It's fine. Would you like to sit with me? I haven't had company for a long time." She offered, directing me to the seat across from her. "Please."
"Alright." I slide the chair away from the table, and sat down.
"So," she began, her eyes never meeting my gaze. "It's a cold city, huh?"
I laughed, "Can't you tell? We are in North America."
"Yes." She sipped from her cup.
"What makes you come here?" I try to start a conversation.
"I was born here."
"Why did you leave?"
"Well," she hesitated, "maybe it was because I wanted to escape reality? But it wasn't like I had a dream to live up to. I didn't have anywhere to go in particular. I just wanted to wander around, doing everything possible. Before I die."
I want to be a bird, flying through the never ending sky without a second thought in the world.
"Is something wrong?"
"No, just recalling an old, useless memory."
"Hm, if it was useless, you wouldn't have remembered."
I laughed it off. "Well, anyway," I changed the subject, "you're way too young to think about death. It's a long way before we die."
Her pink lips curved into a smile. "Who knows? No one can tell the future. Besides, humans die just like," she paused and snapped her fingers, "that!"
She was surprisingly open with me.
"I guess." I mumbled, thinking about her. "How long are you staying?"
"I already stayed for a week. I'm leaving this evening."
She grinned. "Everywhere."
Dumbfounded by her answer, I asked, "when are you coming back here?"
"Never." She lifted her cup by the handle.
"I see." I said. I couldn't hold her back. I'm just a mere stranger sitting across from her, but why does it feel like she was so familiar?
She smiled and took a sip from her cup. "You know," She said, her gaze looking afar, right past me, and at the piano in the corner of the cafe. "I'm a pianist."
"Would you like to hear me play?"
"Sure." I agreed.
She set down her cup and took off from her seat, heading towards the stage. There, a piano, guitar, and microphone was prepared. Though her performance wasn't scheduled, they seemed to be always available, as long as it meant offering entertainment to the customers
She sat and pressed her index finger on a high pitch note. Her gaze met mine; this was the first time I had a clear view of her face. It throbbed. She smiled. I press my palm against my left chest. Her expression told me that the sound of the piano was beautiful.
She started. Her pale fingertips pressed down the keys and it produced a beautiful sound. The song...so beautiful, I couldn't deny that.
However, of all songs in the world, why did she choose this one? I breathed in and out slowly--like the air around me thickened. She continued to play. My head hurts. It's throbbing. I jumped--the chair scratching the floor. I quickly turned and walked towards the door. My strides are longer and my pace quicker than usual. I heard the melody stop, and the pain also stopped, but the melody continued-lingering in my head.
"Goodbye, Shawn." I heard her mutter.
I pulled open the heavy glass door and walked out. I regained my breath. I was breathing heavily just like the incident before-like clouds floating upwards and dispersing. I watched the wind blow and snowflakes melted upon my cheeks and slid down.
I didn't want to see her again. She left just like that and she came back-just like that. The day I discovered she left, I fell. I fell into a pitch black hole and just like how she disappeared, I died. During my time in the pit, it stopped. My heart stopped. The feelings for her had died just like that. She left me, carrying the feelings I had for her.
I chuckled as I got on the bus. "Goodbye."
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