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The Mysterious Stranger (Part 4) - A Blossoming End!
Maya smiled when she thought of the past few days. A strange dream, an impulse trip, a familiar story and a common city. Impossible coincidences or things that were meant to happen. For the first time in the last three days of encountering the mysterious stranger, her heart was not racing.
Memories have emotions. It takes a trigger to have them come pouring out. The unexplainable had slowly started to make sense when Matt Garelson, the mysterious stranger stated Kyoto , Japan to be his favorite place. Maya was born in that city.
Hearing it's mention from his mouth had painted a vivid picture of a beautiful old garden with trees bursting with cherry blossoms. A grey haired lady with pearl white teeth, sitting on a curved wooden bench with five year old Maya. They sipped fresh coconut water. The lady tightened the red ribbon around Maya's ponytail. "Gammy will tell me a new story" , Maya recalled a happy feeling. She made Gammy narrate the "Tale of Puraya and the volcano" again. Then Maya was chasing after a lanky boy with jet black hair - this brought a feeling of sadness. It was an accident. Maya's heart sank and she wanted to cry and this helped her make the connection. She looked up at Matt Garelson and said aloud, "you are Matthew - but how could it be possible - you are dead"? Matt looked puzzled, "What did you say"?
"You used to live in Kyoto with your grandmother - Gammy", said Maya. "She used to babysit me when I was 4 or 5, I was the neighbor's daughter, do you remember? We would visit the gardens of a temple after school. Gammy brought coconut water on the extra hot summer days. She told us stories - the best ones I had ever heard. You were older, and didn't like playing with the younger kids, especially girls. I was jealous of you, you could hear Gammy's stories whenever you wanted, while I had to wait for the afternoons. But I liked chasing you around the garden. Once I chased you in the corridor between our apartments and you ran up to the roof. And you never came down. I remember my mom telling me that they took you away, you fell from the roof. I never saw Gammy again either."
Matt Garelson looked dumbfounded and said, "I had a strange feeling that I had seen you before. Gosh, you are right, that was ages back though. I do remember - you are Mumu right"?
Somewhat embarrassed by the mention of her childhood name, she laughed "Yeah - hearing that name after a long time, but you haven't explained, I thought you were dead. It was a big shock for me, I cried a lot, I blamed myself for chasing you. I felt guilty for thinking you were lucky for getting to listen to Gammy's stories anytime. I was sad for many days". She paused trying to piece it together, trying to think why she had forgotten it all, thinking hard what her first memories were at all. Guilt was the first emotion she recalled. Then realization dawned, guilt would explain why she put it all behind her, it explained the anxiety at seeing him. But what about the dream, was that truly a premonition of what was about to happen?
Matt stared sympathetically at the silent Maya, trying to recall his own version, "I remember that accident, I had broken my collar bone and fractured my foot and a few other bones I think, I was in the hospital for a few months. My grandmother chose to move to a house closer to the hospital, which is probably why you never saw us again. But you should know that it was my own stupidity, I was old enough to know to keep my eyes on the ground, but the rush of being able to leap the highest trying to catch the ball, sheer idiocy - it was a game the older boys played sometime and the roof was our secret playground, that day things got out of hand." Maya took all this in, as a feeling of warm comfort now spread slowly in her chest. Matt's blue eyes assessed her for a second and he continued "I was hurt, but survived, thankfully the roof was only 3 floors high, the impact wasn't enough to kill me."
The warm comfort had made Maya feel more confident. She asked "Why Kyoto? Why did you say it was your favorite place"? He smiled and made a sad face at the same time "Well, as you know I lived, but the accident cost me my dear grandmother. They - my father's family blamed Gammy for being careless, I had to go back to Australia to live with my father's sister. The fact is, my mom was dead, my father had remarried and Gammy was the closest I had to a family. She is no more now, passed away peacefully doing charity work in India. Those few years in Kyoto with her are my favorite and cherished part of growing up. She inspired me to follow my heart, the reason I chose to become an actor, so naturally Kyoto is personal."
Maya sat in her apartment, sipping tea in front of her laptop and day dreaming now. She had returned from New York, the mystery was solved, she had reconnected with a long lost acquaintance - a friend perhaps not yet but a possibility maybe? The prospect of a possibility made her smile. She was about to shut down her laptop, when she saw a new email in her inbox. Reading the email this time did not make her fall out of her chair, but grin from ear to ear - it was a Facebook friend request from Matt Garelson with a message asking her if she would accept the request of a mysterious stranger?