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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

2008 - Annual - It's Just a Game, Right? Entry

In a Flat Spin - 1. Story

In A Flat Spin

めまいがして 混乱して

Jovian

How much damage could a spinning bottle in a game cause?

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Special thanks and big hugs to Beastkid and Yap for beta-reading and editing You guys are awesome!

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Dedicated to Brian Rhoades, Marcus Hirabayashi and Lynne Chen for motivating me to weather a personal storm.

****

“Daijoubu (Are you OK)?” A gentle voice was heard.

Opening his bruised eyes, Toshihiro winced. A pungent odor from the canisters beside was nauseating. Coupled with throbbing pains in his temples, his vision blurred.

“Daijoubu?” the schoolgirl asked again.

Clenching his teeth from bearing the pain in his abdomen, Toshihiro crawled to his feet. Losing his balance, he leaned against the wall; defeated by the energy that he used to push himself up to his feet. His head spun. He couldn’t remember anything. Breathing heavily, he scanned his surroundings.

“What?” he asked confused. As he slowly started to regain his vision, he could see the schoolgirl, and an alley. He gulped huge breaths of air. His heart pounded. He didn’t know how he got to this place. He couldn’t remember.

“Douka shimashita ka (Is something wrong)?”

The sight of broken bottles in the bins, however, reduced Toshihiro to tears. A rank smell distorted his senses. It was only when he brought his hands to his shirt that he realized it had been doused with stale gasoline. Weeping from his discovery, he felt around his neck. Nothing. His necklace was gone. The only memento left of his mother before her passing was taken away in the blink of an eye. Like an iron grip to his throat, he choked. Sliding down against the rough bricked wall, he buried his head in his folded arms, ashamed.

“Douka shita no (What’s wrong)?” the worried girl asked, taken aback by his sudden fit.

Suddenly, things started coming back to his mind. He didn’t know how long he had been here, but he knew what had happened before.

It all started with a spinning bottle…

****

The hallway of the History IB class in Osaka International School would be flooded with students on typical Tuesdays once the class let out. However, that Tuesday seemed different as some senior students of the IB B Higher Year 2 grade remained in class. Michelle Weinstein, one of the three Americans in Mr. Enokido’s History IB class, had gathered everyone together after school for a game. Taking a seat beside Toshihiro in the circle of twenty two senior students, she pulled out a beer bottle from her bag.

Vinnie, a fellow senior student, laughed. “How did you manage to sneak this into class? Does Mr. Enokido know about this?”

Michelle rolled her eyes. “Oh please, I’m not that stupid. Besides,” she tilted the bottle, “it’s empty.”

Carefully, she placed the bottle in the center.

“This game is called ‘spin the bottle’.”

“Come on Michelle, even though we’re Japanese, we’ve heard of that.” Akio Lin Watanabe said gazing into Toshihiro eyes. Akio knew everything about Toshihiro. They had been best friends long before the first day they were admitted into the same school. Since Akio practically lived next to Toshihiro, she had become like a sister figure to him. Like Toshihiro, her parents were separated and her mother returned to Taiwan, leaving her in her father’s hands.

Giggling, she leaned on his shoulder. “On second thought, you’ve never played this before, have you, Tosh?”

Toshihiro swallowed.

“It’s simple,” Michelle said. “What you have to do is just spin the bottle. Once it stops and the mouth of the bottle is pointed at anyone in this circle, you’d have to kiss that person in the class’s empty closet for two minutes. It’s easy.”

Toshihiro swallowed hard.

He glanced to his side. Seated perpendicularly from him was Nakajima, and unbeknownst to anyone, he was Toshihiro’s crush since grade ten. His dashing build, his sparkling eyes, and the hairstyle that complemented his boyish appearance, were just too perfect for Toshihiro; so perfect that he had to hold his breath when he noticed Nakajima’s glance sweeping past him. It was a short glance, but it was more than a transient feeling of pleasure for Toshihiro.

Akio clasped her hands. “Okay, shall we get this started?”

Setting it firmly on the floor, Michelle spun the bottle first. It pointed to Henry, another fellow American, and, without hesitation, Michelle pulled him into the closet and made out with him for a full two minutes. Taking turns, people started making out with each other in the closet, imprudent about the noises they made inside. The louder it was, the more cheering.

Very Un-Japanese. Toshihiro thought.

If the mouth of the bottle was directed at a person of the same sex, he or she would have the option to choose whether to proceed to kiss. Such was the case when Kosuke rejected kissing Minoru.

“Dude! I’m not a fag. That’s sick!” Kosuke exclaimed.

After fourteen people had their tries, Akio finally passed her turn to Toshihiro. Akio only wanted to be present because of Toshihiro, but she never intended to participate, much to his disappointment.

Forcing a nervous smile, Toshihiro took the bottle by its body, he spun it reluctantly. It picked up pace initially, before subsiding its speed. Taking its final spin, its mouth circled the crowd slowly.

Toshihiro scanned the people in the circle, but he noticed Minoru Ishiyama eyeing him as well. Minoru’s bright-eyed and pleasant gaze held something in it that Toshihiro couldn’t comprehend. However, the mouth of the bottle was not pointed at Minoru, but the person beside him…

“Nakajima?” Akio said, mouth agape. She broke into another giggling fit.

Henry slapped Nakajima on his back. “Twenty bucks on the table if you go for it, man.”

Akio laughed nervously. “Come on, don’t torment him. Tosh, you can spin –”

“Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” Henry persuaded. Soon, virtually everyone in the circle chanted the same.

Nervousness weighted him down as Toshihiro gazed at the floor, unable to move. Was it fate? He didn’t know. The only thing that was running in his mind was the need to escape. He coughed. He turned to Akio and whispered. “I don’t think I can do this.”

Akio placed an arm on his shoulder. “You don’t have to do this. It’s just a game.”

But before Toshihiro could reply, Nakajima stretched his hand out for him. He pulled Toshihiro to his feet. “Twenty bucks says I can do it.”

“Yeah!” Henry shouted sarcastically. Doubling over in a laughing fit, he shed a tear. “Kiss him!”

Wobbling on his feet, Toshihiro’s mind froze. What if the class finds out that I’m gay? This is just a game Tosh! This is just a game. Nothing serious.

In the closet, Nakajima placed his arm on his shoulder.

“Wait,” Toshihiro said. “This is just a game, right?”

Nakajima lowered his head and sighed. “I’m not gay, just so you know.”

Toshihiro nodded and placed his hand on his necklace.

“That’s a nice necklace. Who gave it to you?”

Toshihiro knew it wasn’t a good time to talk about this, but since he had loved to converse with Nakajima since the very first day they met, he opened himself up. “My mother gave this to me before her death.”

“Nice. You miss her?”

Toshihiro nodded. Of course I do. That is a redundant question.

“I know what you mean. Although my father is senile, he is still a strict orthodox and if he finds out about this stupid kissing thing, he’s going to hit the roof. But I’m going to make this crystal clear to you. I’m not gay. Whatever happens in this closet does not go out of it. You hear me?”

“Are you guys making out in there?” Henry shouted. The silence that followed his shout was pressurizing.

Slowly, Nakajima moved closer towards Toshihiro’s face. Toshihiro could feel his breath on his lips. It smelt strongly of cigar.

“I can see you guys through the little opening of the closet, and I can tell you guys aren’t kissing!” Henry shouted.

“Let’s just get done and over with this.” Pulling him towards his face, Nakajima pressed his lips hard on Toshihiro’s.

The door opened.

They stopped kissing.

****

For three days since the game, the notion of getting into Nakajima’s good book lingered in Toshihiro’s mind. Was it really just a game? He didn’t know. He couldn’t see past the kiss that Nakajima was a heterosexual. He had kissed him, and that was all that mattered. Nakajima could be a closeted homosexual for all he knew. He brought his necklace up to his lips and pecked on it softly. It was something he had been yearning for: someone to hold, someone to be there for him during his times of need. Someone to fill the empty spaces his mother had left in his heart.

“Hey,” Minoru appeared instead. Striding into class, he brushed his fingers on the fingerboard of the class piano beside the entrance.

“Hey.” Toshihiro acknowledged.

Minoru’s gaze – there was something about his gaze that captivated a portion of Toshihiro’s heart, but it was not as fervent as the glances from Nakajima.

“So,” Minoru said. “How are you?”

“Fine.” Toshihiro replied, a little uninterested in starting a conversation. He had been keeping his mind preoccupied with thoughts of Nakajima.

Minoru smiled. “Great. You know, my sister was being a troublemaker today. I was supposed to bring her to school, but she kept running away from me. She is one sneaky little brat.”

Silence. Awkward silence. Toshihiro smiled and nodded. He couldn’t sink any of his words into his mind. The only images that were flashing right before him were that of the brief kiss Nakajima and he shared.

“Do you want to know where I found her?”

Toshihiro shook his head and smiled. He wanted to be alone. He didn’t need to listen to Minoru’s tale as he was preoccupied with Nakajima every second of every minute. He left for the washroom, thinking that a little splash of water in the face was all he would need to get him back into reality from this enchantment.

Water filled to the brim, Toshihiro laved a handful of it to his face. Undeniably, it was refreshing; however, it didn’t drive the thought of Nakajima out from his mind. Staring at his own face in the mirror, he scrutinized his drenched cheeks. No pimples. Great. No facial hair yet. Great. No deformity. Great. Nothing could go wrong. He’d just strike a conversation and ask him out for a date. Simple. Or was it?

Summoning his courage, he drew a deep breath and trudged back into class, taking his seat in the virtually crowded room of thirty seven people. Three rows down and four seats to his left, Nakajima sat with his elbow on the edge of his backrest as he engaged in a garrulous conversation with Henry and Kosuke. But, he didn’t seem to be enjoying it one bit. He seemed agitated. Toshihiro caught his glances again, and this time, he felt something different. Nakajima’s glances weren’t that of a pleasant acknowledgement, but of a cold staring threat.

Seated behind him, Akio tapped him on his shoulder. “You didn’t call me for three days. What’s the matter?”

Toshihiro cleared his throat. “Nothing.”

She paused for a moment.

Toshihiro glanced at Nakajima again before turning to face Akio who had pulled a seat next to him. She cupped his hands on hers.

“What?”

She reads into his eyes. “Admittedly, I think I know what’s going on. Your glances are telling me everything. You don’t have to say it, however. Just know that I still love you as my best friend.”

Trembling, Toshihiro chewed his bottom lip. “Thank you?”

She drew herself closer towards him. “But,” she lifts a finger. “I don’t want to see you get hurt. You know very well that Nakajima is not a good person. He’s not even … like you…”

“But.”

“There is no serendipity here. Just because the mouth of the bottle was directed at him, and you… made out with him… doesn’t make him a homosexual.”

As much as Toshihiro wanted to digest that caveat, his stout heart brushed her command away like a swatter swatting a fly. He couldn’t accept it. He assertively knew what kind of a person Nakajima was because he was the one who had kissed him, not Akio. He nodded.

“What are you doing after school today?”

Toshihiro shrugged. He crossed his arm and gazed at the carpeted floor. No matter what she said or did, he still couldn’t yield to her demands. Images of Nakajima were already ensconced in his mind.

“Do you want to catch a movie with me?”

Outwardly, he pondered about it with a finger on his chin. But, inwardly, he knew all he wanted to do was to start a conversation with his crush. “I’ll see about it.”

****

When Toshihiro realized that Akio was summoned into the teacher’s office to help out a student in kanji during lunch, he decided to head to the cafeteria without her. Even though he had second thoughts about having lunch alone, the sight of Nakajima a table away was just irresistible. Since arriving at the cafeteria for three minutes, the thought of striking a conversation with Nakajima was the only thing in his mind.

To avoid looking like a stalker, he took his bento out from his bag and set it on the table. If Akio was around, he would have used her as a perfect cover. Today, he ate his meal alone as he glanced over his shoulder a couple of times. If only he had a mirror in his bento… Across him, two tables down, he noticed Minoru’s stares – the stares with a tinge of delight and comfort. Yet, Toshihiro couldn’t look at them for long. He turned towards his bento and fished a pair of chopsticks out from his bag’s side pockets, even though he had lost his appetite of the sashimi in front of him.

“I’m not gay!” Nakajima hollered, taking Toshihiro aback. His friends had escalated his agitation to a boiling point. “Damn it guys, I’m not! You can’t spread that kind of lies!”

“Prove it.”

Furiously, Nakajima grabbed a carton of milk and hurled it at Toshihiro. The carton bursts upon impact on the back of his head. “Proof enough?”

Shocked, Toshihiro swallowed his heart. His hands remained glued on his chopsticks and bento. He couldn’t even pick a Kleenex to wipe the goo off his hair and shirt. All he could do was stare at his table. He was traumatized. Too traumatized.

“Gomennasai (sorry)!” Nakajima shouted and proceeded to leave the cafeteria only to be stopped by Minoru.

“Gomennasai, my ass! Go apologize to him.”

“You’re not my mother.” Nakajima said, shoving him aside.

Toshihiro observed Minoru’s action, but he didn’t stay long. He was humiliated. His reticence surmounted his courage as he slipped away from his sight, crying silently.

****

The fire in the fireplace was not warm to generate enough heat in the frigid winter night of Osaka. As warmth began to settle in his heart, he ran a finger down the picture of his family in one of the albums his mum gave him on his birthday. Every time his finger ran down the photos with his father in it, he’d peel them out from their slot carefully and set them on the couch. For hours, he had his mind set on removing photographs of him from his treasured memories.

“Toshihiro?” Aunt Miyamoto asked. She approached him and placed her bony fingers on his shoulder. “I have to go home to Hokkaido to my family. Brother is sick and he wants help.”

Toshihiro nodded. He didn’t want her around. He couldn’t take orders from someone who did not look like her mother in the least bit – or anyone else for that matter. He needed to be alone.

“If there’s anything you want, call me, and I will rush here.”

For someone who didn’t speak a word of English at home, Toshihiro thought that her grasp on the language was perfect; but his mother, raised in the States, had better command of it than her sister. Her talking in English only served as a reminder to Toshihiro that his own mother had committed suicide. Aunt Miyamoto had been trying hard – too hard, in fact.

“Toshihiro, can you say something, or not?”

Smiling, he gritted his teeth hard, feeling his temples throb. “I understand.”

Aunt Miyamoto seemed a little hesitant. She sighed at the photographs of his father on the couch.

“Doesn’t mean you are –” she swallowed. “Your father still loves you, you know?”

Clenching his fists, Toshihiro spoke through his clenched teeth. “Your flight leaves in an hour, right?”

She nodded, but she didn’t move. Instead, she traced her gaze from the floor up towards the photo album seated on the couch. She forced a tight lipped smile and stretched her hand out firmly. “Can I?”

It wasn’t as if she had never seen them before. Reluctantly, he slowly handed it to her. It was like a tough stretch, especially since this was something that he had left of his mother – something precious and dear to him.

She flipped the pages tenderly, not pinching too hard on the edges of each page. Then, tenderly pulling one photo out, she forced a smile. “I always loved my sister, your mother.”

Toshihiro nodded.

She lifted her head and smiled amiably. “But you cannot sit and always cry because she’s not here.”

Turning towards the fireplace, she tossed the book into the flames, much to Toshihiro surprise.

“Obasan(aunt)?!”

Before Toshihiro could dart for the smoldering album, she turned and wrapped her arms around him, still holding onto the photo between her fingers. “You cannot keep her trapped in your mind. Stop it. You still have me.”

Toshihiro was speechless. He couldn’t comprehend what she was saying. He needed that book back. He needed those memories. Eyes swelled, he cried on her shoulder as he softly hit her bosom. He wanted to hit her hard, but his limps rebelled.

“Your feelings, you fight. You have to fight.”

Fight? He didn’t know what the hell she was saying. He wailed. Why the hell would you throw the one thing that I love away, you monster!

“Ki o tsukete (take care).” Aunt Miyamoto said, embracing him one last time although he tried to push her away. Then, as she picked up her bags and headed for the entrance, she placed the photo next to a vase on the table beside the entrance, took one last look at the sobbing Toshihiro, and forced a smile before gently closing the door.


 

****

Two days after the milk-throwing incident, Toshihiro received a letter from Nakajima in class. He didn’t seem as agitated as he was before. In fact, he seemed a little apologetic for his actions. Too apologetic. Even Akio wasn’t as apologetic as him. Unfolding the letter, he read silently:

“Meet me at the alley beside Senri Chuo Station. The one close to the Osaka Monorail. Be there at 7 p.m. Once again, I’m truly sorry about the incident and I want to apologize privately. I don’t want any attention drawn. This is a private apology because I want to let something off my chest – you have not heard my true feelings about you yet. Sorry about the incident. Sumimasen deshita (sorry). I hope you can forgive me.”

On first reading, tears welled up in his eyes. Throughout the lesson, Toshihiro gazed dreamily at him. There was nothing in the letter that suggested anything malicious. While wallowing in the thought of meeting Nakajima, he noticed Minoru’s stare. It wasn’t a pleasant look, but one that portrayed apprehension.

While packing to leave class after lesson, Toshihiro noticed Minoru pulling a seat up beside him.

“What did he say?” he asked with a hint of concern.

Toshihiro smiled. “Nothing.”

“Did he apologize?”

“I think so.”

“You think so?” Minoru sighed. “How is that an apology?”

Toshihiro raised his eyebrows and shrugged.

“Don’t listen to him.”

Toshihiro forced a tight-lipped smile. “You don’t understand.”

“Oh no, I do understand. What is it with him that you find fascinating? He’s really not the person for you.”

Swiping his hands down his face in fury, Toshihiro yelled. “I’ve had it with you. I know you’ve been stalking me with those looks of yours. And those stories that you keep telling me, I don’t care for them either. So yeah, I like him, what’s the big deal. Get over yourself.”

Minoru didn’t budge. He remained resilient. “Listen, whatever you do, please don’t trust him. He’s a snake in the grass.”

Toshihiro sighed. “I’ve my best friend to tell me that. Don’t worry about me. Worry –”

“I worry about you.” Minoru exclaimed. “I worry about you all the time.”

Toshihiro was slapped with a slab of regret on his shoulders. His slight tremble was oblivious to Minoru’s eyes, but whatever Minoru had said, it was not the best he could do to deter him from meeting Nakajima. Mind fixated since he received the letter, he slung his bag over his shoulder.

“I have to go,” he replied.

But Minoru didn’t let him leave. Holding him fast by his arm, he planted a kiss on his cheek – a daring move that caught Toshihiro completely off guard.

“I care about you enough to not let him do something horrible. Don’t go. At least, let your parents know where you’re going.”

Clenching his teeth, Toshihiro gazed at the ceiling. “You don’t know anything about my parents.”

“Are you –”

“They left me without saying a word.”

“Wait,” Minoru said. “You don’t have a place to go?”

Toshihiro crossed his arms. “Yes I do. But have you heard of the word loneliness? Guess you haven’t.”

Placing his hand on Toshihiro’s shoulder, Minoru leaned closer towards him. “If you want, you can come over to my place tonight. We can talk about this.”

Toshihiro didn’t reply. He didn’t speak a word – he couldn’t. His words were trapped in his throat, lodged too deep in it for him to even verbalize. Shaking his arm off, he darted out the room, leaving both Minoru and himself, crushed.

****

At night, the city of Osaka bloomed with arrays of vibrant lightings and colors. The street was still packed and the night life in Central Osaka had just begun. With crowds filling the streets and the night markets, it was nearly impossible for anyone to notice Toshihiro as he made his way down to the alley a few meters away from the Osaka Monorail. The chilly air of the night in Central Osaka was not enough to bring his spirit down. Rushes of adrenaline surged through his veins, sending him messages of high hopes and dreams. If Nakajima wanted to tell him about his inner feelings, Toshihiro knew instinctively that he had to let this come to pass. He needed to hear what he had to say. He needed Nakajima to tell him the three words that he had desired to hear ever since they met.

“Hey.” Nakajima exclaimed. Striding towards him, he patted Toshihiro on his shoulder. “I just want to apologize for whatever I did the other day.”

Toshihiro beamed. “It’s all right. I understand.”

Leading him to the deeper end of the alley, Nakajima beckoned him to sit on the empty barrel that was placed against a brick wall. The alley was near pitch black, and there was nobody else visible but Toshihiro and Nakajima.

“Fag?” Nakajima asked, pulling a cigarette out.

“No.” He politely rejected.

“No.” Nakajima laughed and grabbed Toshihiro by his collar abruptly, much to his surprise. “That’s not what I meant.”

Toshihiro could smell his pungent foul breath. “What –”

Then, there was a punch. One that was sudden and forceful that Toshihiro could feel his stomach exploding. Another blow forced Toshihiro down onto his stomach. Without warning, Nakajima pulled him from behind, dragging his abdomen against the pitted surface of the back alley. Slammed against the barrel, Toshihiro realized that the barrel wasn’t empty. The rancid smell of the dark petroleum had his fear pinned his feet onto the ground. He realized he was going to be burned alive. With unbridled cries from his pleas, Toshihiro found himself praying silently to God.

“You little fag.” Nakajima said and delivered a punch to his face. Without a slightest thought of hesitation, he poured a bucket of petroleum over Toshihiro’s head. Toshihiro opened his eyes: he saw an unremorseful Nakajima for the first time. His crush had gone berserk. His crush would soon crush his skull.

“Why?” Toshihiro cried, begging for an answer. His throat swelled, not from the attack, but by the incredibility of Nakajima’s action.

“Why?”

Nakajima slapped him hard. “Because of you, my annoying friends, wait I shouldn’t call them friends because I don’t care about them anymore. But because of you and their shitty stupidity, my senile father now thinks I’m a closeted homo.”

Bleeding from a tear on his lip, Toshihiro continued to sob. He couldn’t listen to him. Everything he had revered about him ended right here. Guilt was written on his face as he tried to control his tears futilely.

Grabbing Toshihiro by his collar again, Nakajima pulled him closer to his face. Toshihiro choked.

“Burn in hell.” Nakajima whispered.

It wasn’t the three words he had anticipated before his arrival, but it didn’t surprise him the moment after the first punch. What Minoru and Akio had said was true. He should never have trusted him.

Pinning him against the wall, Nakajima yanked the necklace off Toshihiro’s neck.

“I’m taking this away, because you’re a disgrace to your okasaan (mother).”

He delivered one last punch that rendered him unconscious.

****

The girl stayed, not moving an inch as though she would only leave if Toshihiro was all right.

Sore wan an desu ka? (What is it?)” He heard a familiar voice.

From a distance, the figure looked like an unrecognized silhouette. But on closer approach, Toshihiro recognized him. Like a guardian angel spreading his wings, Minoru bolted towards him and scooped him into his embrace. Minoru pressed his forehead against Toshihiro’s gently. Their temples throbbed against each other.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized. Toshihiro could feel his tears on his cheek.

Following suit, Toshihiro sobbed. For some reason, he felt as if he had let Minoru down. He should have listened to him. Now, he hated himself, and he thought he would have to live with this shame for the rest of his life.

“I’m sorry too.” Toshihiro said. He couldn’t look at Minoru. He just couldn’t. After what he had been through, and after he had cold-shouldered his warnings, there was no way he could look in the eye of a person that only wanted to protect him.

“Your neck…” Minoru said. Dipping water from his bottle onto his handkerchief, Minoru, controlling his tears, applied it gently on Toshihiro’s abraded nape.

Wincing, Toshihiro coughed. “He… took my necklace…”

Almost as if he was unable to suppress his fervent emotion and guilt, Toshihiro wrapped his arms around Minoru, feeling their hearts pressed together in unity. And for the first time ever, Toshihiro sensed something he had never experienced before: something unexplainable but palpable.

****

The knot on the bed sheet was secured. The chair was in place. The note was written. The door locked.

Stepping onto the chair, he placed the noose around his neck. It fitted comfortably – like the necklace his mother had given him. On the table, a coaster was placed on top on his suicide note. Heart thumping, he held onto the noose around his neck. Saying a prayer wouldn’t help. He would much rather be dead and sleep for eternity than to face reality. To him, there was nothing left to fight for. Everyone that he had loved had suddenly left him.

That was what he had thought of before the door clicked open. Fear enwrapped its chilly fingers on his heart, freezing it as he held his breath. Who could have his keys? Should he kick the chair away? Should he just give up? He didn’t know. Everything was running in his head too quickly for him to register anything.

“Tosh!”

He kicked his chair.

****

For a second, Toshihiro thought he was in heaven. But the moment he opened his eyes, he felt an arm around his neck. Coughing, he pushed himself up. The torn bed sheet rested on the couch beside him.

“You can’t be serious Tosh.” Akio said, tearing. “What were you thinking?”

Toshihiro, in tears, shook his head. He buried his head on Akio’s bosom. “I don’t know. I just want to die.”

“Why?” Akio broke away from their embrace.

He studied her teary eyes and shook his head. “I wanted to see her. I missed her so much.”

His frustration turned into a fit of fury as he tossed the bed sheet into the fireplace. Kicking the coffee table, he wailed, not because of the throbbing pain from the impact of the strike, but from the indignation that boiled in his heart.

“Why did you have to leave me? You’re selfish! Selfish!” he screamed. His throat burned, but he could care less. “Why did you have to leave me alone?”

As Toshihiro went about in his paroxysm of weeping and anger, Akio retreated to the entrance for a short moment.

“Your mother didn’t kill herself because of you or your father. I highly doubt a woman like her would do something drastic like this.”

“But she did.”

Akio wiped her tears in umbrage. “She loved you.” Firmly, she handed Toshihiro the photo she had retrieved from the vase and turned it around. Behind, much to Toshihiro’s bewilderment was a message he had overlooked. It was a family photo taken at the Miyagi Baseball Stadium in Sendai while they were on a vacation. In the photo, his father was seen kissing his mother on the cheek and he had his hand placed on Toshihiro’s shoulder. It was one of those rare moments where Toshihiro actually smiled genuinely.

“Life’s a game, right?” Akio read. She sniffled before continuing. “You don’t get to swing the bat a couple of times. Unlike the chances given in a baseball match, you only have one shot in life to meet homerun. Toshie, you’re the best thing that has ever happened in my life. You’re my homerun. Your father might have left you, but don’t let our divorce distract you for a moment. There are four bases a player needs to circle to successfully score a point in homerun. Even though I have done mine, I will continue to fight for you because I know you’re a bright child and you will run the bases someday too, with your own base hit. However, if I’m not around anymore, I want you to fight as hard as possible. Win another homerun if possible. You only have one shot at life, what are you going to do about it? Love, Satomi Miyamoto.”

****

The bottle had been spun. Toshihiro breathed awkwardly and forced a smile. Entering the closet a second time, he stared into his eyes.

He smiled again.

“It’s just a game, right?” Toshihiro asked. “It’s dark in here.”

“Just place your hands on my shoulder.”

“What’s the proverb again? Koi wa moumoku (love is blind).”

“No. It isn’t.” Minoru said, running his finger down Toshihiro’s cheek.

As fate had it, the mouth of the spinning bottle was directed at Minoru, and he didn’t stop to let his peers negotiate a deal with him to ask Toshihiro into the closet.

“Where’s Nakajima anyways?” one of his peers had previously asked.

Toshihiro shrugged. The last he had heard, Nakajima had transferred to a local institution. The necklace was never mentioned or returned to Toshihiro. But Toshihiro didn’t mind. He had a treasured photo as a memento.

“Do you think I’m a disgrace to my own mother?”

Minoru gently brushed the bangs that hung on Toshihiro’s forehead to the side. “Of course not.”

Seemingly unconvinced, Toshihiro was ready to exit the closet when Minoru suddenly took his hand and placed it on his cheek.

“Please, I –” Toshihiro trembled and turned his gaze away.

Minoru placed a finger on his lips. “Just relax.”

He ran his finger through Toshihiro’s hair. Once the tension on Toshihiro’s shoulder was elevated, Minoru leaned closer towards him and kissed him passionately on his lips. Submitting to Minoru’s action, Toshihiro relaxed his jaw and followed suit. With their trembling jaws hanging, they wallowed in their intimacy. Placing his hand on Toshihiro’s waist, Minoru pulled him closer towards his chest. Body to body, tongue to tongue, lips to lips, soul to soul, heart to heart.

“Are you guys done?” Akio asked.

Michelle giggled. “Time’s up.”

She pulled the handle to the closet.

The door opened.

They were still kissing.

 

© 2008 Jovian

Story Discussion

Copyright © 2010 jovian_w2002; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

2008 - Annual - It's Just a Game, Right? Entry
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