Memories in the Rain
The golden rays were determined to cover the sky in a dress of lights more colorful than the aurora borealis that dresses the night in bewildering colors of different frequencies and intensities on the cold mystic nights of the North. They progressed little by little, plunging the earth beneath in a mesh of colorful chromatic rays of life. It was a chemise of light woven string by string by the hands of their maker. Each string carried an essence of hope, prosperity, and fortune to that land it descended upon.
The colors entwined, mixing, wrapping around each other, and bringing forth colors that the human eye could only stand in awe to their majestic nature. Tranquility woven into their mere existence, they swayed with the wind that tried to bask in their ambiance and dance to their radiance. It was noon, yet more like a festival of energetic colors bringing forth beauty that left any observer. Yet, the city remained silent, deaf, and unaware of the ritual that was taking place.
Yet, he sat observing the colors dancing, embracing, and giving birth to what looked like a mesh of entwining lights. He was left speechless as he witnessed the magic with his own eyes. Up on top of his house's roof, he sat, with his knees close to his solid yet well formed chest appalled by the beauty of the scenery. He was around 15, white hair with ruby-red eyes fully dilated to take in the beautiful lights.
He wore an amused yet sad smile on his face. Somehow, the scenery was surreal, beautiful and suffocating as its grandness pressured his chest. He almost skipped a heart beat as the golden rays passed through him. Close enough, he could see that each ray was a thread of light, thinner than his white hair that reached till his shoulders; the rays were materializing around him, moving swiftly and softly almost touching his cold cheeks. They danced around him bringing forth a feeling of both warmth and a slight feeling of sadness.
Xin wondered what those lights meant, yet for the time being he was in a trans. Levitated to where the veil separating humans from gods was lifted, his soul exited his body almost getting tied up with the majestic rays of light. As he drew closer to them spiritually, he felt no desire to go back to his body. Somehow, he felt safe, warm, yet more importantly he felt like he belonged there. Some thing called out to him at the very far, and he dashed to answer that call.
Xin extended his hand to touch the source that resonated calling him by name, yet before he could make contact with that body of light, he was yanked hard by his collar and thrown back. So forceful was the yank and soon he was thrown back into his mundane body with a little voice speaking his name and bringing him back to his sorrowful reality.
"Sir, are you okay? Sir, siiiir!" the little voice buzzed in his ears. Xin was still taken aback by the force that yanked him and was still wondering about that entity that called out for him. Somehow, he knew that voice as he felt it resonated slowly within him. Yet, as he slowly forced his eyelids to open, he saw a little girl eying him closely.
She was about 9, with a mix of brown and golden hair that was held in a bun and extravagant big green eyes. She held his image in her green eyes and eyed him carefully. Xin tried to make sense of his reality, yet, he failed as the resonating voice he heard earlier made his heart skip a beat. On another note, the girl stood in front of him, paper white, with her tears running down her cheeks.
"Settle down child, I am okay. Now tell me what brings you here? And why are you looking at me like that?", Xin eyes her paper white expression and wonders where the lights went. The girl responded with a small nod then presented herself. "Zi Xia is my name, and I was walking by when I saw you not breathing and with your soul exiting your body", the little girl eyed him.
Was she insane, wondered Xin as he looked at the fragile figure that stood in front of him. He pondered her reply and remembered how it felt to be within the rays of light. Then he recalled the voice and the entity that called for him just before he was yanked back to reality. He placed a shaky hand on his chest that was still sore from the earlier encounter and closed his eyes resting his lashes for a second.
"Perhaps, it was just a dream", he told himself as he exhaled and opened his eyes.
"So, Zi Xia, what are you doing here", he calmly phrased his question while pointing out that she, a 9 year old girl was alone on a stranger's rooftop. With a more sincere voice she phrased her dignified answer stating that she had a wish and her mother was supposed to take her to visit the firework festival offered to the Yana deity but her mother has unable to attend and left her alone in an empty house in the cold.
Silently, Xin wondered how a little child would end up on his rooftop, yet, as he gathered his composure, he stated that the festival has ended a long time ago. But, he offered to walk her home as it was getting a bit late and too dangerous for a young 9 year old to walk alone. Zi Xia's eyes glittered as she took on Xin's offer and for the first time since they met, a faint smile showed as headed off the rooftop. On several occasions, Xin would tell her to watch her footing for a broken step and offer her his hand when needed ,yet, Zi Xia would state that she was old enough to fend for herself.
Off the rooftop they went, and soon they stood at the entrance of Xin's house. According to Zi Xia, her house was 3 blocks after the temple of the Yana deity and close to the Takoyaki stand. Xin walked pacing himself to match the young girl's slow but steady steps. On several occasions, he would ask her minor questions about her family, friends, siblings and other memorable stories. And soon enough, it would appear to him that Zi Xia indeed was a lonesome child, unwanted from both sides of her family as she was an illegitimate child.
As she spoke those words, the 9 year old's face was nothing but grim. The faint smile that she wore on the rooftop when Xin offered to walk her home has long been submerged under her current stiff expression. Xin could not tell whether it was that of pain, aggression, lack of love, or simple desolation. He pondered the thought of how a mother could not love her child and leave her to fend on her own at the age of 5. Zi Xia would tell him stories of how the winter dug into her limbs and how her mother would lock her in the attic because she was the source of her misfortune.
With a stiff heart and painful thoughts, the couple walked crossing roads until they reached the Yana deity shrine. Xin took a small step while pointing at the shrine that stood there for over 3000 years. He told Zi Xia that the shrine is known as the deer shrine while pointing at the stags that gathered at the entrance. He said that the legend states that the Yana Deity exists partially in the Yana-hime of the shrine and in one of the stags that occupy it.
Zi Xia eyes the stags with her big green eyes. Smiled and ran towards the entrance. I always wanted to pray at this shrine, yet never got the chance. "Douka (please) grant for me this wish Xin!", she said while pointing at the shrine.
Xin exhaled, stating that they should not take that long, after all, it was becoming dark and the darkness is quite formidable. Zi Xia nodded happily and ran to the shrine performing the rituals in proper order. As they exited, one stag deer came towards them smelling them both then ran to join his fellow stags in the courtyard. Zi Xia was enthralled with the beauty of that creature and begged Xin to keep him. Xin sounded his disapproval stating that the deer in the shrine are wild creatures that took sanctuary at the shrine which is a sign of a blessing from the Yana deity to this land.
Xin walked urging little Zi Xia to march and promised to make it up to her. Still sad that they could not take the stag with them, Xin stops at a dango shop and buys two servings for them. Enthralled, the shopkeeper asks whether they will eat them indoors to which Xin replies that they have to get going. The shopkeeper offers the dango servings and exclaims that one person can't eat two servings easily. Xin smiles and states that half of the dango goes to the little lady by his side to which the shopkeeper exhales and forcefully hands the dango to Xin and turns his back away.
Xin ponders the brashness of the shopkeeper yet his trail of thought is disrupted as Zi Xia exclaims after the first bite of dango." It is quite delicious", she states and hops as she eats the last piece on the stick.
"You know Xin, I always wished to have mother treat me with some dango", she walks in front of him to turn around after five steps and smile thanking him for meal.
At the takoyaki stand, a line of clients was forming, and the group of people were all pushing each other. That takoyaki was always that packed with people at this time recalled Zi Xia. She tells him about how she brought home some one day to share with her mother. Xin replies that "it has always been a family thing to eat them together, for the more the number of people who share a meal the merrier. An awful bitter flat smile surfaces on the 9 year old's face and Xin soon regrets his words.
Past the takoyaki stand Zi Xia fails to match Xin's pace. In his own thoughts, he wonders whether or not she is getting tired and offers to carry her on his back. "Umm, Arigatou Xin ( thank you ) but I am not that tired. It is just that I am not looking forward to going home."
Those little words carved a crevice in his heart and he forcefully swallowed his saliva only to urge her to walk a bit further. "That is my house she pointed", Zi Xia stood in the middle of the road pointing at it. Xin eyed her expression, it was as if her bright green eyes have lost their luster and the faint smile she wore while eating the dango was replaced by a bitter look. Somehow, it ached him to let go of her, but he could not do more than offer her help when she needed it. He urged her to try and find peace with her mother and told her she can drop by anytime. He promised to always look out for her when passing by her house.
"It is a promise", Zi Xia said.
As he bid her farewell, little Zi Xia would remained standing in the middle of the road she would wave to Xin telling him he better keep the promise of staying by her side and that she would try to visit whenever she got the time. Caught in the little chit chats that elongate bitter farewells, Zi Xia failed to see the carriage that was heading full force to her direction. The horse's gallops drew Xin's attention and soon his desire to protect the young girl pushed him to cross the road and grab the girl by the hand only to save her by a split of a second.
"What are you crazy you bastard!", said the man driving the carriage as he drove off. Xin exhaled stating that the driver was a bastard for not watching out for the girl who was crossing. The carriage driver exhaled as he wore a bewildered expression.
"Zi Xia, are you okay?", Xin phrased his question with a rising pulse and a worried look.
"Xin, gomin, ( sorry ) I do not think I keep that promise of ours", Zi Xia stated as Xin held her in his arms.
"You aren't hurt anywhere right? You are okay right Zi Xia?".
She placed her little hand on his face saying that she was somehow okay, but that she could not be there anymore for him.
Coldness and emptiness greeted his cheek and soon her tears would fall down her cheeks, she would cry asking him for forgiveness for she wanted more time with him, she would apologize for not being able to keep that promise.
Bewildered Xin eyes the little fading form and begins tearing up. "What is happening Zi Xia, why are you disappearing before my eyes! What is the meaning of this ZI Xiaaaaaaaaaa!!"
His last words were cut in half as his raging cries emerged making him choke with his own tears. His heart throbbed with pain and soon the fading form in his arms was no more than thin transparent air. He tried to hold onto her more but soon his hands would go right through her and her body would fade.
"Arigatou Xin for the memories, for making my wish come true" were Zi Xia's final words as she faded into this air. Baffled, Xin remains crouching on the floor with his fingers rolled in a fist as he strokes the road. Soaking in tears, he strikes the floor trying to feel physical pain while hoping to suppress the pain he was feeling in his chest.
The clouds usher the wind that begins to shake the trees around Zi Xia's house and soon rain begins to fall. One drop strikes his bleeding fist and so does another, then another until the droplets become more consistent and harsher on his skin. He cries there waiting for an explanation yet the rain offers nothing but despair in solitude more like victory in defeat.
Soaking wet, he heads back home and as the rain pours and the thunder gods threaten, he passes by the Yana shrine. Desperate to shield himself from the rain and seek enlightenment, he enters the shrine with his blood running down his fingers splashing on the floor tiles. Bit by bit the droplets splash and he crashes on the wood on all four crying, pounding, and demanding for answers.
The deity enters as if attracted by the racket and smiles as he regards Xin. Offering him a helping hand to stand, he calls him forth and listens to Xin's encounter with the little 9 year old. The attendant of the shrine tells him how Zi Xia has always been shunned for being a bastard child and how she would run into the shrine and hide when she would be beaten up by the neighbor's kids. He retells how he met the kid at the age of five with a broken arm and a 4 inch cut in the forehead and recalls how her health has deteriorated recently until she passed away.
The shrine deity states that Zi Xia has always showed a desperate desire to visit the shrine during the festival time, yet due to her recent health problems she was rendered bedridden unable to move or recover. He attributes part of the blame on Zi Xia's mom who would leave the young girl in the house without tending to her fever, health or even offering her proper food. Sometimes, the deity would send food and amenities via his messengers, yet, he knew well that tuberculosis was not curable and the child's poor health and physique was of no help.
Xin's sorrowful tears fall crashing, the saltiness and bitterness make the cuts and bruises on his fingers sting, but he did not care as he enriched himself with Xi Zia's past. It was a horrendous story told by a deity about a 9 year old who died on a cold winter day in a cold empty house. She was born alone, left alone to grow and as painstaking as it appears, she died alone.
"Rest assure, that you granted Zi Xia's wish. And for that her soul can now exit the human world and find eternal peace", said the deity as he placed on thin hand on Xin's shoulder. "It is her sole desire that bound her to this world and allowed her to stay here and appear before you. And once you granted that wish, she has been set free from the shackles of her past and can now cross to Soul Society. You my child mourn not her death, for she , although died alone, she found a friend after death that granted her final wish. Cherish the memories, remember her when praying, and always cherish those that are living and left behind." Those were the words that Xin repeated as he bowed to the deity with respect and walked home.
The rain stung far less, and the winds settled to a medium intensity. Soon, the temperature would drop and little snowflakes would descend from the sky above covering everything including Xin in white. It was a dress that mixed with some golden threads of light that fell upon Xin's palm. Unlike the regular snow, those were warm flakes of white snow that had some barely visible rays of golden strings through them.
A slight laugh echoed from behind him and he turned around to see a small figure resembling Zi Xia laugh as it played with the snow. It ran along into the white bulk of snow where Xin's eyes could not follow and just before he could fully extend his hand, a single phrase was left behind to Xin to commemorate , "Arigatou Xin!"