a story of ephemeral moments

—August, few years back.
I met her.

 

/1

there was nothing special about that day on August. the new term was just started, leaving either sighs and boredom to a new starting-whatever for the autumn to come.

that being said, but there was not really autumn as I lived here — I’d like to see one though; falling leaves, reddish skies, and bustling wind through time… or whatever it might have, yet I never saw. an empty wish perhaps, but at least I’d still be able to look up the similarly red-dyed sky, and some falling leaves with some chances of luck of these time around.

it was nothing special, after all. again, August was only to be the beginning of another session of busy days leading to several months ahead; I wonder if I would ever treasure them though. it was only going to be a transient memory after all — running through classes and tasks, beating around assignments, and so on and so on.

but at least, I’d still be able to walk beneath that autumn-like red-dyed skies and falling leaves. nothing else matters enough, and life was just what happened.

 

that was the first day of the newly-started term. lightheartedly walked upon the faculty square, I could see students scattering almost everywhere; some were having chat or simply taking time before classes. some others were making crowd around the announcement board to see their class assignment for the courses, which apparently some were divided into two or three classes.

I checked on the announcement board. taking note upon the class assignments and room numbers, and having some greetings and chat — just usual conversations in the morning before classes, quite in the mood of the beginning of a new term.

it was 7:50. classes would be started at 8:00, so there was still enough time. with that, I went to the designated class of my schedule.

 

when I came to, some people were already in the class. most of them were classmates from my previous classes, thus I knew them quite well already. I made my way to look for my usual seat in the previous classes — leftmost seat of the second row. for some convenient reasons, I had been taking my seat there for many classes before, but————

————there.

a girl was sitting on my (supposed to be) seat.

I always wondered if any person other than me would take that seat on the first place. simply put, the seat was some kind of ‘deserted’; you would need to walk through between the first and second row seats, and as it was in leftmost position you only have the wall to your left.

“…what?”

she looked at me, as if I was standing there for too long. maybe I was, but who cares.

“…nothing.”

I took the empty seat on her right side, and sat. soon after the seats were all taken, thus the class began for the new term… neither of us cared to talk, and I was not interested to pick something to talk about.

…oh, and she was a classmate of mine, as well as being students of the same year with me. we did know each other, yet I didn’t talk to her really often though. it was just that kind of relationship; plain, and not much of anything.

and there she was, sitting with some kind of attitude which built up coolness and composure. it was unusual, yet nothing out of place; just one distinctive attitude — or trait, perhaps.

and that was that, nothing more and nothing less.

 

/2

“I know it. you’re on to her, right?”

I almost spewed out my coffee as he said that; but my pride said no — acting as cool as I could do instead, I (frantically) tried to calmly respond.

“…what are you talking about?”

okay, I guess I failed. it was nowhere close to either cool or tough.

“ah… so?” he sighed half-heartedly. “can’t say I believe anyways.” and then a grin. a damn wide one.

“…what dragged you to such thought anyways? only a mediocre guess after years, huh… not as good as I expected, duh.”

I pulled another bluff. in his eyes, a glimpse of hesitation.

chance. I could still pull this.

“well… it’s just strange. she wouldn’t talk to just any other guy; she’s not of that type, you know. it’s tough around her I think, but you take on it as if nothing… if you ask me, she’s not like that to anyone else y’know.”

…well, thank you.

“then it’d be safe to say that ‘she hates me more than anyone else’, huh?”

he burst into laughter.

“aww, man. I’d expect that thorny words of yours, but this time you’re dumb big time. really big, man.” he laughed and slapped the table again and again as he laughed.

“I may be dumb, but I notice y’know? you don’t let anyone go with wrong ideas, but you’re okay she hates you with no reason? lol. now that’s the real joke.”

he could be damn sharp at unnecessary times.

“I told you I’m not…”

“okay, chill. chill down. I take your words for now, you gave me big laugh today tho. chill. everything’s cool here.”

he sighed for the last bit of laughter, before saying his last piece.

“meh, just an advice. she does have the look, but she is really hard. bet she could kill you once you let her down, but it’s okay——”

I didn’t really understand where he was going with the flow.

“——but being that hard-headed, both of you are very much alike, you know?”

then. bidding his goodbye rather cheerfully, he left me a vague impression that————

okay, I failed.

 

it had been three months since the term started. falling leaves were never of autumn, but who cares. there was nothing really unusual as life went on its own; classes and assignments and sometimes group task were just what was supposed to be from the life of a university student.

as for the ongoing term, the campus was still the way it was back then. some maintenance and minor changes did occur though; like how several brand new flower arrangements then took place around the parking lot, or how some menu sets suddenly appeared as being sold in the cafeteria.

the campus ground was built upon the concept of ‘minimal maintenance purpose’ building; simple yet clean, although I did believe that it was probably not as clean as it was originally. still it’s cozy nonetheless, and as long as I could get concerned, the classes and equipments were in good conditions. that aside, the students’ lab and the internet connections had been well-maintained, rendering me having no complain about the facility.

it was around the warm afternoon around October as I walked my path to the cafeteria. the ever-crowded cafeteria was in silence as there was no one being there for the time around. some of the stands were still open though — mainly with coffee and cookies, for students who were out for coffee break.

a silence of tranquility. vermilion-dyed twilight sky.

————there, I saw her.

alone.

in an ephemeral moment of serenity.

it was so ironic that it was so beautiful; a firm, yet fragile scenery.

like it was firm enough that she could take everything on her own, while at the same time so fragile that it looked almost like a nearly breaking glass.

it was somewhat sad. and sadly enough, it was sad as well as it was beautiful.

only to that moment, I finally understood. about why I didn’t want to leave her alone. about why I always looked at her from the side. about why I didn’t want to see it breaking apart upon her.

————because it was sad. and only to that ephemeral moment, I understood.

I stepped.

“…is it empty?”

with the averting gaze, I asked about the seat in front of her table. it was a public area, after all.

staring at me, she answered with a faint nod. there was no one else, and as I thought it would be rude of leaving away and not even asking about the very trivial matter.

————but that wasn’t the sole reason.

that was stupid, I thought. only to that stupid act, but I decided to throw away my reasoning. only to that moment, it would be fine. because of that girl in front of me. because I just didn’t want to leave her alone.

because there were too many reasons.

even then, I decided to keep her company meaninglessly. even if it was only that I was having my bread and coffee, as well as she did. even if it was nothing we could talk about, nor did I have the interest to pick anything to talk. even if there was only silence between us.

only the gentle breeze, and the vermilion twilight.

absurd. and stupid. but it was okay. only to that moment, I didn’t mind.

“…are you waiting for someone?”

suddenly, she asked. I didn’t really expect it, but I didn’t mind anyway.

“not really.” I replied shortly.

“again with it, huh…” she sighed quite halfheartedly.

I only looked at her. only something like that, nothing more or less. but even if she was about to say something, I’d rather hear them in more frank fashion.

just like how we would talk about things within the past months. not really much, but it’s just that. it was never of casual matters or silly chit-chat, and it’s only that.

but I knew. rather than words, I could see more within those eyes. like little things that would be left unnoticed by many people, so that’s the way it was. and just the way it was, she would never really talk about it.

it’s only natural. everyone has stories of their own. some are meant to be shared. some are not meant to be told just like that. some others are even meant to be kept as secret.

but I knew. maybe because I had this kind of eyes as well. maybe because I could see through things better than many people. maybe because I could barely see what lies behind the agonizing facade.

————although, I wouldn’t care enough if she wouldn’t say anything either.

the coffee was already half empty. still, I didn’t want to leave just yet. I knew it was stupid, but it was just that I wanted to stay longer in this scenery; beneath the twilight sun and occasionally falling leaves, inside the gentle breeze that came by in times like this.

“…tell me,” she said. “what do you think of trusting someone else?”

her dark eyes sent a gaze. a gentle breeze swayed her short, dark hair; shades of twilight painted the scenery with the reddish hue.

I averted my gaze. trying to calmly grasp the situation, I managed a reply.

“…what is it about?”

“nothing. it’s just that I wonder how people put their trust in others before finally they end up getting hurt themselves… it’s just sad.”

“that’s human anyways,” I delivered a plain response, before continuing then.

“they love each other, they hurt each other. by trusting someone, you are prepared to get hurt as well. whether it’s friend or family, you never really know… in the end, it’s all about your assumptions toward them. it’s that simple.”

she was intently listening before finally talked her way.

“I could never trust anyone that much. no matter what they are to you; even if it’s friends or even couples, you can’t really trust them in the end. it hurts, and then you’re alone.”

long silence between us. before then the twilight started to fade; the vermilion scenery was about to leave. as I averted my gaze upon a distant tree on the faculty park, it dropped another dry leaf; falling down, somewhat helpless just like that.

the cup of coffee was almost empty. as she sipped the last drop of her drink, soon after we parted then and there.

 

/3

in the scenery, there it was.

————broken.

only lies. and truth. hatred. and shattered wish.

————broken.

a bird frantically trying to flap the broken wing. writhing in pain as it was left behind. refused to die while trying to stay alive. the comrades were leaving to the south.

fly, to the south. together with the comrades. together they would go, together they would help each of themselves. together to the destined southern land.

but it fell, alone. the comrades were leaving. they were meant to go together, but————

————in the end, it was all alone. fell down, its comrades kept on leaving. as if slightest care was unnecessary. as if they had to go no matter what.

leaving. it. alone.
took. their way. off.

the scenery was burning grief. sadness, anger, and despair. painfully intense as if it was burning down itself.

————painful grief. refused to die.

in a strange dream I was in, the scenery painted a burning grief.

it was too sad, too gruesome.

————before I realized, I woke up.

 

I decided to go early on a whim. the snowless winter had arrived on late November, and the ever-changing days were furiously cold. as like the autumn, there was not really winter as I lived here; only some freezing days and pouring rain at its best to imitate the ever-winter scene.

the roads were slippery, leaving the trace of the well-drenching rain that was probably pouring on the night before. I didn’t really remember about it being raining, but it rendered the walking quite convenient; I always liked taking a walk after the rain. leaving on a 20-minutes walk to the campus ground, I took my walk as efficiently as possible.

————many things had happened recently.

but perhaps that was only sugarcoating. you couldn’t really say that something was nice by saying as if it was nice. truth is, it was not. neither would it ever be such; rather, it was tiresome — and hurtful.

such things didn’t necessarily make you stronger or weaker; probably for some individuals, but not necessarily for everyone else. instead, it left you a hole in the heart; something felt like missing, while there was nothing could fit in. along with anger and grief — painful as it might sound.

————I was through that.

when it comes to something you care, you tend to put expectations. like how you would expect someone to understand you, or how you would believe that someone you love would never hurt you.

in the end, it’s only baseless. such a bond is extremely fragile. depicting only the honest nature of human, it was solely based on a wishful thinking — sometimes it works though, but not necessarily that it’s working all the time.

the same also goes when people talk about love. in such relationship built upon the bond called ‘trust’, it was also fragile as well. even thorough assessment or examinations would never suffice; all that is left is solely the trust variable, applies to both sides.

the closer you are to someone, the more you become prone to pain. the more you trust someone, the more it hurts when you learn a betrayal. it’s that simple.

unfortunately, it would never be the same again for the both sides involved; be it the broken trust within friendships, or even such kind of trust within relationships of that so-called love.

————because on the opposite side of caring love lies tremendous hatred.

 

I reached the faculty at 7:40. the first class was to be held at 8:00, so I spend my time slacking off at the cafeteria. as I was thinking about it, having a breakfast was probably not a bad idea — I’m not used to having them on a daily basis though.

there were few students there, mainly of the first year. they were discussing about their group assignment or something, and as peaceful as it could get, I decided to have some bread and milk for my rarely-happened breakfast.

I checked the date on my watch. it hadn’t been that long ever since that day, but my mind felt numb already. like how I wanted to treat it merely as an indifferent past, or how I simply wanted not to care about such things.

————that day. vermilion-dyed scenery.

slight pain struck my chest.

forget it. it was nothing, only a wishful thinking of my own. unnecessary feeling that should have gone already.

————that day. an ephemeral moment of serenity.

another pain struck my chest. why did it have to be this painful?

only that moment, kept replaying itself in my head. about something we talked about. about why and how it was being said.

“————gh!”

bewilderedly shook my head, I tried to suppress the sudden tides of anger. enormous amount of emotions as if trying to engulf my mind; painful and disturbing at the same time.

despair and grieves. sudden anger that felt like an iron pipe being hit on my head. anger. hatred. grief. just like that and it was nearly enough to take down my composure.

only. that. but why————

————did it have to be this painful?

 

“did you two get in a fight?”

…here came the most annoying question from the ever-caring person. fortunately, without his cheerful nitpicking expression. thank goodness, I would be more than prepared for a fight should it happen on the first place.

“…what?”

“playing dumb, eh? good for everyone else, but not working to me. just say that I’m slightly concerned about this matter.”

I waited for him to continue.

“it’s not like you past few days, you know? looks like you’re acting cold to her lately. she’s been a bit cold to begin with, but you’re beyond worse than that, man.”

“like what?”

“what, are you always picking me with that ‘what-what’ reply? such like, you didn’t even look at her, let alone talk like usual. you are even avoiding your usual seat because she was around. what was that but obvious?”

there was only silence for a while.

“let’s just say… something happened.”

just like that. something happened, and things would never be the same again. the whole situation was a mistake. things were unrecoverable, and there was nothing could be resolved about it.

“she’s worried, you know.” he said that, sounding more like humming.

“she’s not.”

a cold response. even I didn’t think that it would sound as cold, but probably due to that his tone of approach suddenly changed.

“hey. you really okay with this? I mean, you and her were—”

“—yeah, I’m alright. thanks anyway.”

I tried to manage a smile, but god knows what kind of ‘smile’ it would probably be.

————whatever. there was nothing to care about it.

 

the 5th period was held at 13:00, and as I came there the class was already crowded. I decided to take the currently-vacant leftmost seat of the second row, before then taking my time chatting with some fellow students sitting on the front row.

there were nothing special; only chats about some gaming invitations, planning trip, or even the upcoming sports events. the class was about to start then, and everyone was only either sitting or strolling around the class peacefully.

————before suddenly I realized that someone was standing near a seat next to me.

it was her. as if having some hesitation, she didn’t take the seat — rather, she was standing there silently.

I passed a glance at her, but that was all. quickly averting my gaze, I wanted nothing to do with that. just being there was uneasy; as if I could get myself engulfed in those kind of painful, brutal emotions anytime. as if I could lose my composure anytime around only by being there.

but only in those milliseconds, I saw it; those eyes like of that time. and the silent expression living on that face.

painful. only those eyes, and that expression. but it angered me somehow as I could see a glimpse of pain inside there. vague and almost unnoticeable in that less-than-second period, but I could barely see them; a glimpse that was there, almost overlooked as I didn’t want to care.

————I felt the anger build upon myself.

why is it?! why is it you who came with that expression?!

it angered me so badly that I didn’t think I could afford to stay any longer. it was painful. the anger within. the suddenly assailing grief. the feeling of despair I grasped. building and enraging inside, it was suffocating; nearly enough to make me losing grip, almost on the borderline to overtake my composure.

I stood up, before then leaving from the classroom. it had not even been ten seconds ever since I realized her presence, and all that it left was only growing pain. I didn’t know. I didn’t care. and I didn’t even want to know about the reasoning of my action.

but it was only simple matter about the reason why I was enraged. because those eyes and that kind of expression were not supposed to belong to her. because looking at them was painful for me as well.

because I was supposed to be the one who came with that kind of expression instead of her.

and because, on that day. the one who was supposed to truly understand the meaning of ‘trust’ was the one who severed the very meaning of the ‘trust’ by herself.

 

/4

that day, I decided to go early on a whim. as I was thinking about it, there was no need to come even later in the morning; there were nothing of morning classes I had to attend, as well as I didn’t have any appointment back in the campus.

but still, I decided to go early. as if trying to awake me from sleepy-mindedness, the clock showed 7:12 already as I had been prepared to leave anytime soon. considering the situations, even with the leisure walk I’d still be able to reach the campus by 7:25 — approximately 20-minutes of walk would do the rest.

putting some more of the materials inside my bag, I checked the content for the last time, before leaving my simple yet comfortable room immediately after.

 

continuing upon the revolving seasons, spring had made its way towards the busy life; it was still the same demanding life as it had been these few years, but walking inside the weather by the end of April was nice as well. spring had arrived, and there was nothing to complain about.

when I came here few years back, it felt like things like this were about to go on like forever; morning walks, busy days, and anything else that might be thrown to any university student. it was indeed felt like forever before, but suddenly it felt just like a mere instant of timelapse.

the dim sunlight. the morning breeze. the busily walking students.

————but soon, it would be leaving already.

I knew it. because time itself was only of ephemeral nature. because those we call ‘memory’ always resides in time; thus it is also fragile as well. in the end, memories are only transient; living inside oneself, only as vague proof of the person living on a life.

in the end, life itself was only ephemeral, and fragile. built upon things called ‘memories’, consisted of the mild and harsh moments of itself altogether.

and just like that, something went through my mind.

many things had happened ever since that day. pain and grieves. hatred and agony. resolution and indifference.

everything had already been resolved. there was no need to look over the past, but still the traces were there; the lingering affection, lurking within the past memories. distant yet so close, while sometimes shyly pulling the strings of reminiscence.

there should have been nothing left. unless————

————something, before everything was to be engulfed deep within the flow of time.

 

I remembered, months ago. we were slacking off around the campus ground when the conversation took place.

“so you’re done dealing with it, huh?”

he asked with his usual tone. somewhat looked as if paying only little attention, the question explained more than it sounded.

“…sort of. guess I’ll let it go this way,” I replied shortly.

“good to hear. but is it okay with you like this?”

“what else?”

“like you haven’t even grasped the whole picture, but you just let go that way. you’re usually sharp about things, but I wonder now.”

just because. the answer was simple.

“…I don’t want to care about it.”

he only looked at me, then sighed before coming back to the usual tone.

“whatever you may choose then. glad that you resolved this matter about her anyways… but what’d you do now?”

“just leaving it this way. nothing else would matter anyways.”

“heh. you could be damn cold about things, you know.”

and so the conversation ended.

 

it might had been a while for now, but the campus itself had changed itself quite much between months that had passed already. as usual, changes are just like that; the ones living with them are the ones being least aware of them.

————in a period of time elapsed between, the campus had changed.

across the lake I used to pass on my way to the campus, a brand new bridge was established; rendering the walk shorter and more convenient for the time being. the overlooking view was decent though, yet nothing bad nonetheless: trees and faculty buildings stood on the distance, beyond the calm and timid lake. at times there were also gentle breeze accompanying the overlooking view, while most of the time it would only be bustling wind being there to greet people who passed the bridge.

on the other hand, the university had also established cycling tracks for use with students or even the staffs; the trajectories including some sort of ring road around the campus ground, while also making its way through some parts of the university forest. that being said, it was also open for pedestrian trek; had been traversing through several times, I could say that the trek was enjoyable though.

————yes, things had changed.

even the faculty square had been renovated, and a new department had been established a while back. a new parking lot was also built, and overall it delivered a quite fresh and new look around the campus ground.

still, if there were things that had not changed, it was me who was still taking my way back and forth to the campus ground; while strolling around the way of classes, assignments, projects, and even some researches.

…and several more to say about it, but nothing much. yet even then, that was also about to end; just like that as well, I would also be leaving in the end. and as good as it could get, life was just what happened — nothing more and nothing less.

as usual, changes are just like that; the ones living with them are the ones being least aware of them.

————perhaps, even I had changed.

 

on that warm afternoon of April, I took my time to stroll around the campus ground. the sun was about to set, giving a vermilion shade towards the scenery; something felt so dear yet so distant, something far away as I held dear.

a gentle breeze greeted me in the scenery beneath the twilight sky.

————before everything was to be engulfed deep within the flow of time.

only something, a deep and fragile memory I held dear. only those things I decided to let go long time ago. only that moment I could ever be honest to myself.

things that would never be the same again. interleaving grief and solitude. the path I had decided to walk upon ever since.

the silence of tranquility. vermilion-dyed twilight sky.

————there, I saw her.

alone.

in an ephemeral moment of serenity.

only to that moment, I understood why everything back then was painful to me.

————because it was only her that I didn’t want to see being that way.

because I would never want her being the one who did such thing to begin with. and because it was only her, everything back then was too much of pain for me.

————because it was only her.

a slight pain struck my chest.

the scar of distant days that should have gone long time ago. a wound that should have closed by itself. the slight pain that reminded me of everything back then.

————because it was too painful, too gruesome.

yet even then, I stepped.

“…is it empty?”

with the averting gaze, I asked about the seat in front of her table. it was a public area, after all.

staring at me, she answered with a faint nod. there was no one else, and as I thought that was how it was supposed to be in this time around.

————I remembered, on that day.

that day when I decided to keep her company meaninglessly.

even if it was only that I was having my bread and coffee, as well as she did.

even if it was nothing we could talk about, nor did I have the interest to pick anything to talk.

even if there was only silence between us.

————but I knew, things would never be the same again ever since that day.

“…are you waiting for someone?”

suddenly, she asked. I didn’t expect it, but I didn’t mind anyway.

“not really.” I replied shortly.

long silence between us. shades of twilight painted the scenery with the reddish hue. a gentle breeze greeted my face silently.

…and still, the same long silence.

“————I’m sorry.”

it was only then that I managed to say those words.

only another silence that continued; that, and just like that for a long while that lasted like forever. but only in that moment, I could see; within those dark eyes was something that was also there on that day. rather than words, within those eyes.

I averted my gaze. it was just too painful, too gruesome.

but she tried to smile.

“thank you. for not acting kind to me all this time…”

it was not that kind of cynical reply. rather in contrary of what she said; as if honestly meaning to say that, she delivered those words out of sincerity.

…but I knew. because those words were meant just as they were. because those words were honest, and that’s the way it was.

“it’s me who has to say that, you know…”

at last, I managed a reply.

I took a deep breath. hard as it might be, but I decided to continue what I was about to say.

“thank you… for not being there when I needed it the most.”

I delivered those words sincerely, as honest as I could be. nothing like cynical or even sarcasm — it was neither close to any of such; those words were solely meant to be sincere words of thanks.

————because only to those words, I believed that she would understand.

————because only to those words, that would mean everything.

putting a smile in this kind of situation would be tough call for either of us; but as well as she did, I tried to smile as well.

“so… this would be farewell, huh?”

again, with those dark eyes just like on that day. and just like that, her words delivered a remaining silence between us.

“…yeah.”

long silence between us. before then the twilight started to fade; the vermilion scenery was about to leave.

in the end, that was everything. not many words, not many things.

————but in the end, that was everything.

 

leaving under the falling night, I took my walk more slowly than usual. the night breeze was chilling, but I decided not to care. the twilight was no longer there, and the nightfall had already repainted the sky.

in the end, that was everything. memories would only be memories; precious, ephemeral, and fragile. engulfed deep within the flow of time, residing only inside its very owner. sweet and bitter, mild and grotesque; and that was all to it.

————only that, and I had no regret.

on that night the stars were absent; only the silent moon appeared before the hollow sky.

glass moon hanging in solitude. alone in its never-ending journey.

 

looking up at the night sky, I smiled.

 

————and just like that, this story was ended.

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