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Mar 22, 2018 - 12:43 PM

Who I Am (12) ~ Unreachable

"Rukawa, why?"

He doesn't even look at me when I ask him and I stand in front of him to block his way.

"How can you leave now?" I try to calm myself down trying to not draw too much attention from our schoolmates, "this team needs you!"

The female schoolmates are watching us and some don't look very friendly at me.

"Let's go to the rooftop." I whisper and I walk ahead.

It's not raining but dark clouds are gathering. The sky is as ash grey as I feel inside. I turn to the Super Rookie: "You are our ace player. You are our top scorer. You..." I pause, "just tell me, why?"

"I want to become stronger." He coldly replies.

"You leave because of Shiori's death." If I had a few more seconds to think I probably would not have said that, but I did. "You've still got a lot to prove here. Don't walk away from this. You haven't even beaten me yet!"

"America is the dream of every basketball player."

I feel a rage inside of me because he is acting so cold. I just cannot stand it.

"Don't you think I know? I lived there for 3 years! I know what American basketball is!"

"Why are you asking then?"

I just hate his indifferent attitude because I know that he in fact cares about this team and the championships. Why is he doing this to himself? I try to calm myself down by taking a few deep breaths.

"Is this a promise to Shiori?"

His silence answers my question. Then his soft voice speaks: "I told her I would make it to America . I wasn't there with her when she needed me most: the last moments of her life. I will not break another promise to her." Although he didn't lose his coolness I can clearly see the heartbreaking sorrow in his eyes.

I understand his feelings more than anyone else, but I cannot believe he's actually leaving. This would also be devastating news to the team, and to my brother. This is his last basketball summer in highschool and I know how much the championships mean to him. Without Rukawa the team won't stand a chance.

But what can I say to stop him from fulfilling his dream and his promise to Shiori? No, the question is: should I stop him?

"Leaving this country won't make you feel any better, neither will it make the grief less." I hesitate if I should continue and finally I say: "I think you should talk to Anzai-sensei before you make any decisions. He deserves an explanation."

He is amazed about my suggestion, but finally agrees.

He told me he would go to Anzai-sensei's on Sunday, which is today. I called him this morning and he confirmed his visit with a "hmn". I'm so nervous that I can't sit still, so I go out early to the beach where I will meet up with him after his visit to Anzai-sensei.

It's no weather for the beach, but I have nowhere to go. The beach has become the place to clear my mind and to wash away my sadness. "I wish you were not my brother… brother… brother..."

I pull my knees up and wrap my arms around my legs thinking of my words. And so I sit here staring at the restless sea while the words keep echoing in my head. It was what I meant, but I think it sounded in the cruel way.

Why couldn't I just forget what I felt three years ago? Why wasn't my leaving enough to forget it all? Why did I remember?

My brother has become an even cooler and more attractive young man in the years that we were separated. I know things happened to him, but it had only made him a stronger person. That little crack in his pride made me want to be even closer to him.

His arms are the safest place I will ever feel. Whenever I was sad his embrace would make me happy again, and his smile would invite me to smile with him again. I cry at these thoughts. Why am I so weak?

It's a question that I've never been able to answer. I hated myself for what I felt and I disgusted my feelings that would ruin him.

Hours went by and all I could do was staring to the far horizon. I wish it would rain on me, so I could freshen up my cloudy thoughts, but the sky was only grey and even this little wish would not be fulfilled.

I hear footsteps in the sand coming closer. When I look aside I'm glad to see the familiar face of the Super Rookie. He sits next to me in the soft sand and takes a deep breath. I can feel how the nerves tremble in my hands, and I can only hope that he'll choose to stay.

"Sensei said I should stay."

I secretly sigh in relief. "That's good. I mean, that's what I said, right?"

He avoids eye contact and just stares at the crawling waves. "I will become the no.1 highschool player of Japan before I leave. I will not walk away from any competition."

"Did sensei say that to you?"

"What do you think of Sendoh?"

My heart just skipped a beat. Why is Rukawa asking about him? Did he know what happened between me and the Ryonan ace? No, that's just plainly stupid, how could he know about it? Sendoh's affective smile crosses my mind and I quickly wave it away.

"Very good basketball player."

Rukawa nods, but I don't know if he did in agreement or as confirmation hearing my answer. But I'm sure Rukawa recognizes the strength of the other ace player.

"Mitsui-senpai came to see me this morning."

My amazed eyes stare at him looking for an answer. Different questions and scenarios cross my mind. Why would brother do that?

"He told me to take good care of you and if I don't, he would know how to treat me..."

I can't believe that brother would say something like that to the rookie. But then I smile. He does care about me. No matter what I said to him the other day...

"You've got a lot to explain to him." Rukawa continues, "I haven't told anything, as he left instantly. Besides I think it's your task to clarify it all."

"I will."

"Want to talk about it?"

I can't believe my ears although I'm certain of what they heard. My eyes must have rolled when I looked at him, as he added: "I don't do this often, I know."

Shiori was indeed an extraordinary girl, she might have been the only one who was able to break Rukawa's ice. He's not become a different person, but he has finally opened up to other people. I've never believed that the Super Rookie is nothing but cold and not caring, however his trust is just not easily gained.

I've always thought I'd keep my story to myself for the rest of my life, but somehow I speak.

"I lived in the States for three years."


"Those were three lonely years that I will never forget. I have a bad relationship with my parents, my brother and I grew up together. When I went to the States I wasn't able to make new friends and every day I could only think of getting home to my brother."

I pause and the rookie asks: "Why didn't you come back?"

"I didn't want to. Because it finally started to work, in entire loneliness. Trying to forget something, I mean."

I rub my hands in the sand and stretch my legs. I take a deep breath and finally speak up what I've been hiding all this time.

"I fell in love with..." I hesitate at least six times in a second and finally continue: "...¦with someone I should not fall in love with. It was impossible. I would never be able to be with him."

Rukawa's long bangs hide his eyes but not the amazement in them. He chooses not to say anything and I continue: "I know. I know how it sounds: corny."

It was easier than I thought to 'reveal' this long kept secret. Maybe I've been keeping it way too long to myself or maybe Rukawa is a really good listener.

"I chose to leave Japan, because I knew he would not go with me. He had too many things he could not leave behind. You know, he was just unreachable... The love that I wanted was just impossible between us, because I was not allowed to love him. Leaving was the only think I could do. But it hurt so badly. So badly..."

A tear glides down my cheek and I quickly wipe it away before Rukawa could see it. "What I wanted was something impossible. Something that I actually did not want to happen. Isn't that ironic?" I force a smile on my face.

"The differences between all kinds of love are very small. Sometimes you lose sight of what you are really feeling." Rukawa says and I wonder if he understood what I just told him.

I'm not sure if he was trying to comfort me, he then adds: "If Shiori didn't die, I'd probably never know what I felt for her. I could not see the border between love and compassion. And if she didn't tell me about her illness in the first place, I'd probably never have had the chance to get to know her better."

Although our stories are different, the pain we feel deep inside our hearts was the same. We can almost hear the silent dripping of the blood from our bleeding hearts.

"I just wish I could have forgotten what I felt. And actually I did, after our separation. But it all just came back... and..."

Suddenly I find myself not being able to talk because of the sobbing. I was crying without noticing. Familiar arms hold me tight and it reminds me of the day that I went to the hospital and got notice of Shioris's death. I cry even harder and his hand gently strokes my back.

I firmly hold him, trying to forget that someone else is used to comfort me in the same way as well.

Having someone fully understanding myself I feel grateful, but also sad at the same time. Because someone who's able to understand such pain has to be in great pain himself.

~~ Heaven's gate won't open up for me, with these broken wings I'm fallin' and all I see is you. ~~

--> To Chapter 13.