Becky leads us to the dark shade of a cherry blossom tree. The petals are flying in the air, twirling and whirling in circles. A few petals fall on Becky’s soft, hairy head. She shakes it off with annoyance and sneeze.
I’m always allergic to flowers, she says.
It’s strange. I thought only people are capable of being allergic to flowers, I say.
Then it’s your fault for stereotyping humans and stereotyping cats, she snarls.
Yes, so can you stop being so sassy?
Can’t help it. It comes with me as a full package deal.
The Lover holds my hand in his cold palm, shakes it lightly to make me focus on him. He places a finger on his lips, Hush, he says, and then laughs like a child. The usual laugh that rings in my ears like the cathedral’s silver bell’s singing every evening. We would sit on our tiny apartment’s balcony, guessing which cathedrals’ bells are making a round. It’s the one on the West, he would always say, and I would just laugh at his child-like enthusiasm with every little game we play. I know it’s my turn to counter him. No matter which direction I say, or whether there was actually a cathedral in that direction or not, he wouldn’t care.
All we wanted to do at that innocent time was making small arguments. Then the arguments grew out of reach. And later on, they were no longer arguments. They turned to ugly throwing of dishes and loud crashes of TV sets.
It’s strange, I often wondered then, how we are surrounded by all these cathedrals, Christ and whatnot, and yet we can’t find peace. Either the peace within or the peace without, we can’t find none at all.
And I still wonder about it now. But his laughter is everything, and in the moment the sound of his laugh reaches my ears, I know all is well.
You seem to be quite easy to appease, as always, Becky says as she sneezes and vigorously shakes her fluffy head to get rid of the cherry blossom petals.
I turn around. The mist of pastel pink flowers are everywhere with a dash of the sad strings of wisteria and the calming lavender bushes. On the trail ahead, there’s nothing but a carpet of green hope and bluebells.
Yes, I am very easy to appease, I smile.
There are places that make you want to leave and there are places that make you want to stay. But I wonder if the choice is up to us.
The Lover squats down beside Becky and brushes the petals off her round head. She returns the favor with a loud, unlady-like purrs, eyes closing, completely indulging herself in the unconditional love that The Lover is bestowing on her instead of me.
The soft morning light shines on his black hair. The strands reflect back a gentle color of platinum gold. His face lights up with a gentle smile. His eyes are black as black can go – the color of the nights where it was too dark that the drunken man can’t help but get lost on the familiar routes. His bony fingers lovingly scratches Becky’s head and cheeks; the soft tips quickly appear and disappear in the black spot on the cat’s hair.
Becky, you know what, you make me want to be a cat, I say, dropping myself down next to The Lover and ruffles the cat’s head in a ridiculous fit of jealousy.
It’s not me who make you want to be a cat, she snarls at me again, It’s him.
I turn to look at The Lover. He looks back at me with softness and love. It’s alright, he says, All is forgiven and forgotten. And I smile back, hopelessly and stupidly.
Man, you are a lost cause, Becky snickers, which distorts her cat face into an even uglier version, if that was possible.
I push Becky aside and lay my head on The Lover’s laps, trying to relive some sad memories that had been gone a long time ago.
You know the story about the whales, Becky?
Yeah, you’re gonna talk about that after pushing this lady aside?
The story goes something like this, I say, ignoring her sarcastic remark.
You know the story about the whales? The Lover asked me one night as we lay bare skin on our soft mattress, getting ready to sleep.
What about the whales? I turned to face him. He always had this addictive sadness on his face – these gentle eyes, these pale pink lips, which turned soft and darkish red whenever he bites them, everything – that get me jump down the abyss of faint hopes and love.
Truth was, I don’t really care much for the whales and their story. But he looked at me, and what else can I do but ask him about them?
Last night, I dreamed of them.
Another weird dream of yours?
Don’t say that, he commanded, his eyes squinted in disapproval, You know I hate it when you say that.
Of course I want to say that. I want to say that everytime. Just to see his frown, the curve of his pout, and the long lashes when he squints his eyes. And I will always stop right at the moment he drop the command.
You’re right, Becky, I am a lost cause, I laugh as I tweak The Lover’s hair strands. They are on his forehead and everywhere. Each time I pick on a strand, he would return the favor with a gentle smile.
I want to kiss you.
You don’t want to hear about the whales? He frowned again. I knew that with one wrong choice, there would be a high chance that I have to sleep alone. And no living being would like that.
Kiss me then. Give me a kiss and I will hear your whale stories.
I will sleep in the guest room then.
The Lover got up and –
I want to kiss you, I say, warmed with memories and dried-up tears.
The Lover bends down and ever so lightly gives me a peck on my lips. They are cold and wet, and they are nothing like the pout he had bestowed on me when we were on that balcony, surrounded by cathedrals and poverty.
Wait, I want to hear that story. Really, I want to hear it. Tell me your whale story.
I put my arms around his tiny waist and pushed him down. I always marvel at how he was so willing to let me take command, despite knowing who was in charge of our relationship.
What now, he said, but his eyes said, Fine, you are allowed to kiss me.
Tell me about the whales, I leaned in. His warm breath touched my thin lips. Some of the dead skin on my lips got in the way, but it was quickly casted aside as we drown in the ecstasy of a life-long kiss.
He dreamed of whales, I say, my hands reach out to catch the petal flowers falling down from his hair.
Yeah, the whales who turn into humans.
Yes, I stop to swallow the biles that are rising up in my throat, about the whales who turn into humans.
In that whale story, there was a prince who always went to the seashore, watching the whales dancing in the ocean. He fell in love with the tiniest whale among the herd, but he couldn’t swim out there. He prayed to the moon goddess to turn him into a whale. The moon goddess said, What is done can’t be undone, and turned his wish into reality.
As the prince, now being a whale, swam out to the distant ocean, the tiniest whale was nowhere to be found. Unbeknownst to him, the tiniest whale had fallen in love with him since he was still a little boy. And unbeknownst to him, under the full moon when she turned 16, she prayed to the moon goddess to turn her into a human. The moon goddess said, What is done can’t be undone.
And the moment the whale can walk on the seashore was also the moment the prince reached the bottom of the ocean. Standing on the sliding sand, the girl stared of the prince whale on the distant horizon. Forever and ever, the prince can never step on the shore. Forever and ever, the girl can’t swim back to the ocean.
Why are your dreams always so sad? I said, holding his head closer to my chest and resting my chin on his dark felt carpet of hair. I don’t know what I want to achieve then. Perhaps I wanted to console him. Perhaps I wanted to go another round with him.
Or perhaps at that moment when we were on the verge of being fully awake and nearly sleeping, I only wanted the moon goddess to let us be human, forever and ever.
Because what is done cannot be undone.
Are you crying again? How many times have you cried since the start of this trip already? Becky comes over and as a way of fluffy consolation, she steps on my chest and lies across my throat, purring.
Becky, I can’t breathe.
Should I step down then?
No, stay there, I say, feeling The Lover’s now stone-cold hand cover my tear-filled eyes, It’s not your fault. It’s never your fault.
Then whose fault is it?
The whales, I say, holding The Lover’s bony hand in mine, gently stroking each bony finger and feeling their non-existence, It’s the fucking whales’ faults.
And also, because the moon goddess said, What is done cannot be undone.