Hands On A Watch by Meredith Miller

It’s amazing how time can shape our feelings and visions, but at the same time carries no real power over us. In a way, you could say that some people are like hands on a watch, fated to meet again and again, without fail. Time is important in a way that very little else can be. This is something that I understand far better than others ever truly could. I know what you’re going to say now.
Hands On A Watch
Hands On A Watch by Meredith Miller
“Ken Ushido is an arrogant idiot.” “Actually, my life was almost like a timeskip myself!” “When I was younger things were different.” “Of course time changes us!” And so one and so forth. I apologize, dear readers, for what I am about to tell you. When it comes to waiting, to coincidences, and to a love life based entirely on what fate and time have in store for you, none can claim precedence. You would ask of me the reason for this self confidence, and I would answer thus: “My love was dependant on the hands of the clock.” I mean this both figuratively and literally. You see, it all started on a clear summer day, more than twenty years ago. I was but seven at the time and she was a new transfer student in our school. She was shy yet polite, and I was the confidant type, able to find what I wanted and to do my best to make it into a shining beautiful reality. What I wanted back then was in fact very little more than a child’s whim, but it was a powerful motive nonetheless. What drove me into speaking to the shy girl, when everybody shunned her out of a sense of unfamiliarity, was a simple want to see her smile. I laughed with her and made faces and drove away the boys teasing her, and when she did show me her smile it was dazzling. I’m saying this not out of a poetic sense, but simple vivid memory. I was always known for my memory. Her name, she told me again later (for I had forgotten) was Yuki Matsumoto. I decided that it was a nice name while we were playing on the slide in the school’s playground. Boys were unhappy with me because I’d spent all day with Yuki, but her smile, even then, had gotten to be something I based my own on. It was with reluctance that I left the school that day. I said goodbye to the small girl with short black straight hair, and then turned left to go home- and was surprised to see her turn in the same direction. We decided to keep walking together until our roads took us separate paths. Imagine my surprise when we walked next to each other all the way home, with each of our respective parents holding our hands. My mother chatted with hers along the way, so it seems they already knew that we were next door neighbours. It was five years later that I learnt I was to leave for America. My father was a university professor, and had been invited for a rather prestigious job in a university in the states in a place called Pennsylvania. As a child, the name was synonymous with misfortune. I was a confidant boy and separation from friends and culture was not something that gave me jitters, but I knew there was something there that I wasn’t able to replace quite as easily. I said this to my mother, and she had whispered soothingly, as if telling a secret, “Ken, don’t ever forget that fate turns. This move is something we need to do for your father. You are a big boy now, able to handle it. I’m sure you’ll come back here again. But this is something we can’t change, I’m afraid.” With that, I ran to her house in a hurry. I had to see Yuki. “I don’t want you to go,” She’d said simply as she cried, and I tried to hold in my tears so she wouldn’t see them. It was important that I become a pillar for her to lean on, after all. “I don’t want to go either. But mom said that I can still come back when I’m big,” I retorted, and she smiled that dazzling smile of hers. We were in her room, and she walked over to her closet whilst wiping her tears away as if they never were. When she came back, she had something colourful in her small fist, gripped tightly so I couldn’t see what it was. “Close your eyes and put your hands out” she said, and so I silently did. A heartbeat passed, then two. An object was placed, and she wrapped my fingers around it tightly. It felt rubbery and round. When she told me to, I opened my eyes and looked. It was a keychain, with a central part shaped like a watch. It had been set to midnight. A simple thing it was, really. Oh how I cherished it. “I have another one,” she said when I attempted to say I can’t take the keychain from her, and she showed me hers, which was identical except for the time upon its face. Six O’clock. With the sunlight streaming through her west facing window, Yuki had looked as if she were bathed in a deep fiery red. “Yuki,” I’d said, “you are my special one.” back then we were young, hadn’t been told what love was, but in our innocence we knew and felt it deep inside our heart of hearts. Looking back on it, I find it obvious that we were in love, we just hadn’t been aware of it yet. Our thoughts were probably along the lines of, “I like Yuki the best, like mommy and daddy!” But is that not enough, dear readers? Is the understanding of a feeling necessary? Is the love of a child something to be scoffed at? When we moved, she ran after the car so far that I feared for her safety. I was waving for her with my head poking out the window when I heard her say, “I will wait for you, Ken! Forever!” all the while I could hear my mother crying from the front seat. Living was America was a new interesting experience. I was not the type to hold something against my kind father for dragging me here, nor to rebel. Instead I chose the fastest path towards independence. I made friends, learnt, studied, worked for experience. Living in Pennsylvania was strange somehow. With America’s lack of specific customs, but its acceptance of those from other countries, I felt like I was in a mixing pot of sorts. One of my best friends was a boy of Jamaican heritage called Jason. Ah, but this tale isn’t about him. I graduated from university at the top of my year, with a major in journalism. I got offered work in a magazine that chose a topic of the week based on reader request; which they did through an online poll. It was an interesting job because you had no idea what would be expected of you or what you would write about until you were given your assignment. And after a year of working there I took my first month off and headed straight to Japan. I never forgot our promise, you see. Perhaps it was foolish of me, to hold on to a rubber watch keychain and a promise from when I was but twelve. But I’d felt entitled to that foolishness. Because of her smile everything around me had seemed cast in shadow, simply by the lack of her presence in it. Was I afraid? Of course. It had been exactly twelve years since last we met. I was different, and maybe she was too. For all we know we may not like each other anymore. Perhaps she’d lost that radiance she’d had earlier. Perhaps I’d imagined the whole thing Either way, when I arrived in Japan I stayed with a family relative. I headed to our old school and asked around. “Yuki Matsumoto, huh...” the lady in the office said as she searched through records. She had been hesitant to help, but I’d convinced her eventually. “Oh yeah, she graduated from here all right. Went to Toudai University, in fact. Kind, smart, and gifted, it says here.” In Toudai the man in charge of records had been glad to help after hearing the whole story. He pointed me to a student exchange office, and they in turn, to a university in France. Still I persisted, for I was not one to break promises. A week later I was in Paris, where they told me the girl in question had changed her name for some reason or the other, and they were allowed to give me no other sliver of information. No matter what technique or method of investigation I tried, it wasn’t working. I was devastated, naturally. It meant that all I had worked for had vanished into thin air. Loneliness almost took over. I remember wanting to throw my only remaining relic of her off the Eiffel tower, but that would have been unfair of me. It was not her fault that she’d moved, her knight in shining armour had simply been too late, too inadequate. In the end, this was all I amounted to. At about that that time I was called back to the office. You could imagine my mood there. I went from assignment to assignment as if I were a machine, uncaring about the change of seasons around me even when emotional stagnation caused me to slowly rust. It was a very strange time, but it made me realize how Yuki’s presence as a goal to strive for had given me such drive before. I resolved to get back to work, and try to search again in a few years’ time. Perhaps I’d get lucky. It was then that my editor called me in. He wanted me to interview a model who had taken France by storm, and thought I was the one who should do it since I had just come back from that country. I was reluctant, due to a lack of interest on my part. Who cares about some French model? A vase, devoid of anything on the inside, that’s all she could be. I told him so and the man made it clear that I had no choice in the matter. I was to go to said vase’s hotel in two days, or else. What is one to do in such situations? Deep inside, I admit I was feeling slightly disgruntled with France in general, so I was not in the best of dispositions when I headed to the hotel. It was after sunset, the sky poured a thrashing upon any who dared wander outside and I was drenched by the time I stepped inside the hotel, past the green suited doorman who opened the door for me pleasantly. The receptionist informed me that Miss Lavign was waiting for me in the lobby itself, and pointed me towards a lady reading a political magazine. Not being fooled by the act of intelligence I walked to the woman, who had her legs crossed in front of her in an impeccable manner. She put down the magazine and I was surprised. She looked vaguely Asian, although with undeniably European features. Long dark hair and smooth features, unblemished in any way. Seeing her caused a reaction in me, which I rejected immediately and vehemently. No, I was not going to feel anything for this woman. Not after Yuki. I still had a chance to find her, if I just get on with this job of mine and wait. “Yes?” she inquired politely. Rather gruffly I answered, “I am your interviewer today, miss... Lavign?” I pretended to have forgotten the name on purpose in order to spite her. It was meant to be a slight. Instead of being offended, however, she laughed well naturedly. “Indeed. Would you like anything to drink?” “Just water, thanks” I replied, feeling slightly off-put. The woman in front of me ordered water for me and a latte for her. I asked her a few questions I had prepared beforehand (I was still a professional) and she started to get more and more upset with my rudeness as the questions got slightly offensive. My last question wasn’t even planned. “Why, in your opinion, did the fact that you hid your Asian heritage and took this name help your career as a professional model?” That seemed to push her off the edge. She stood up, called me a name in French, and took her bag to leave. Good riddance. Her handbag was still open, though, and something fell out of it. Reflexively, I grabbed the object before it could hit the glass round table between us, and she gave me a venomous look. “Give it back!” she yelled. People were now gathering around us, drawn by the commotion. I moved to do so, surprised by her sudden show of emotion, but I happened to glance at the thing. The world froze in a very real way. I ignored her pleas and in turn pulled my own keychain out of my pocket, my heartbeat thundering in my ears. Slowly I brought my hands together as she watched mouth agape. The two, side by side, could not be distinguished from one another. Except for the timing, of course. You see, I’d forgotten that Yuki’s mother had come from France. Perhaps I was simply too young to notice. It seems she’d taken her sickly mother there after she got diagnosed with cancer. After she died, Yuki had taken on her last name in remembrance. A noble deed I dared mock. We spent the entire night talking, of course. We needed time to get to know each other again, but that was no reason not to try. Now four years later, we are closer than friends and closer than lovers. Dear readers, it was only by a mingling of patience and chance that I found Yuki again. It was time that brought us together, but had we not been alert and looking, the chance may have simply passed us by. It is with gratitude that I look upon the past twenty years, and this is why I claimed that time was important to me. Is there anything I’ve forgotten to mention? Ah yes, our wedding is tomorrow. The cake is to be shaped like a watch. After all, there are two hands on a clock, and they never stray too far from one another.


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